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Film / The Gift (2015)

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The Gift is a 2015 thriller and directorial debut of Joel Edgerton.

Simon Callum (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) have moved to Los Angeles after he landed a job there. The couple plan to use the opportunity to start over after Robyn suffered a previous miscarriage. In a seemingly chance encounter, Simon bumps into Gordon "Gordo" Mosley, his former high school classmate. Gordo makes several awkward attempts to befriend the couple, dropping in unexpectedly and leaving gifts on their doorstep. When Simon tries to break things off with Gordo, things begin to go south.

Not to be confused with the Sam Raimi horror film of the same title.


Trope Me :)

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Gordo's father tried to kill him after Simon spread false rumors that he was being molested because he thought that it meant Gordo was gay.
    • Simon states that he was also abused.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: There’s only ONE consistent truth throughout the whole movie: Simon is violent and untrustworthy. Everything else is up to interpretation. This would suggest Simon isn't a victim, but actually getting his comeuppance.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Simon (and the audience) can't tell if Robyn's baby is his or Gordo's. Gordo deliberately leaves the issue of whether he raped her ambiguous. True, Gordo shot a video of himself which implied that he raped Robyn when she was unconscious, but Gordo neither takes off Robyn's clothes or his own in the video. There is also a montage showing some unknown length of time passing between Robyn's fainting spell and Simon learning she was pregnant. And it's not like Robyn will agree to a paternity test since she knows he's a liar and now wants nothing to do with him. So we are left in Simon's position of wondering whether the baby really is Gordo's.
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  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear when Gordo's interactions with Robyn and Simon became a campaign of revenge. Was it the "Weirdo" note? Was it the dinner party insults? Was it from the very beginning? He claims at one point that he was honestly trying to put his history with Simon in the past at first, but everything he says is suspect.
  • An Aesop: Be careful how you treat people, because even something you don't think much of in the moment can destroy someone's life.
  • Asshole Victim: Considering how Simon treats Gordo, Robyn, and a competitor at work, you don't really feel all that sorry for him by the end. Simon could also be a Devil in Plain Sight
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While it's deliberately left unclear whether Gordo is the baby's real daddy, that nagging doubt is going to plague Simon for years to come barring a paternity test. That, and Simon has already lost his wife and his job. Gordo's goal all along was to completely break Simon the same way he had been broken.
  • Batman Gambit: The entirety for Gordo's revenge plot to work hinges on Robyn getting pregnant shortly after he drugged her, whether from his one-time rape (if it actually happened), or from Simon.
  • Batter Up!: Simon arms himself with a bat before going to investigate after Danny McDonald throws a rock through a glass sliding door during a party he and Robyn are hosting.
  • Berserk Button: Simon goes off at the suggestion that he is to blame for Gordo's behavior.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Gordo is very intense and introverted but also extremely dangerous.
  • Big Fancy House: The majority of the film takes place in a modern mansion Simon and Robyn have moved into. Gordo compliments how it seems to be entirely made of glass. Gordo also lives in an even larger one, but it's revealed that he actually broke in while the real owners were on vacation.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: It's true that Simon was a Jerkass who ruined Gordo's life and showed no remorse for it decades after the fact. And Simon continued to mistreat and provoke Gordo, never mind that such behavior could only make the situation worse for himself and his wife. But it's also true that, in order to get his ultimate revenge on Simon, Gordo (possibly) violated Robyn even though she had nothing to do with Simon's actions and in no way encouraged them.
  • Blatant Lies: Simon claims his apology to Gordo is sincere and only because he wants to make things right. Gordo is unconvinced.
  • Break the Haughty: Gordo's designs for Simon. And boy, does he.
  • Brick Joke: Gordo sets up Simon's and Robyn's sound system early on, and at the dinner party he gives them a copy of Apocalypse Now, explaining that when "Ride of the Valkyries" comes on, it will sound like the helicopters are really moving left to right through the room. When Simon is about to watch Gordo's final tape, the sound system automatically activates and blares "Ride of the Valkyries" exactly as Gordo described.
  • The Bully: Simon was one as a kid and still shows shades of it as an adult. His fight with Gordo is even framed as similar to a schoolyard bully beating up a weaker kid.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Simon doesn't recognize Gordo when they first meet, even though he changed the course of Gordo's life. It wasn't a big deal to him.
  • Calling Card: Gordo's gifts, which either come in red envelopes or with red bows.
  • Cat Scare: One of the only real jump scares in the movie happens when Bojangles the dog jumps out at the end of a darkened hallway.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Gordo first comes to the house, he stops in a side room and examines a monkey doll, which Robyn states that Simon is terrified of and that she was planning to get rid of. Gordo wears a replica mask of it when he's filming Robyn's possible rape.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: During what looks like a throwaway scene at Simon's work, we see him talking to someone on the phone about Danny McDonald, a co-worker he is competing with for a promotion. Simon writes Danny's name on a manila envelope which Robyn later finds in his desk. It turns out that Simon ran a malicious smear campaign against Danny that was similar to what he did to Gordo in school, which results in Danny attacking the house and Simon losing his job.
  • Child by Rape: Robyn's baby may be this.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Simon likely would've gotten the promotion entirely on his own merit but couldn't resist sabotaging Danny McDonald anyway, whether it was to hedge his bets or simply for his own amusement. This comes back to bite him later.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: It's implied that Gordo really was willing to "let bygones be bygones" up until he sees that Simon has crossed his name out and written "Weirdo" above it, showing that Simon hadn't changed. All of Gordo's revenge plans chronologically happen after that point.
  • Downer Ending: Gordo gains his ultimate revenge by (possibly) having his way with Robyn after she fainted and impregnating her, then refusing to tell Simon whether the baby is his or not. And Simon can't do anything to expose Gordo because everyone now knows what a deceitful bully he has been.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Gordo.
  • Foil: Simon's old friend Greg Pierson is one to him. Both participated in spreading the rumors that ruined Gordo's life but Greg has acknowledged what he did, feels genuine remorse and is implied to be a much more mature person while Simon is in denial, refuses to take any responsibility for his behavior and is just as much of a bully now as he was then. While Gordo seems content to leave Greg be after seeing he is remorseful and the two are stated to have made peace, he sets about ruining Simon's life in revenge.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early in the movie, Robyn sees her neighbors' baby in a car seat draped in a cloth. One of Gordo's last gift-wrapped items is a baby's car seat for what his recording implies might be his son.
    • While Gordo is having dinner with Robyn and Simon, he says the "eye for an eye" phrase in passing. For turning Gordo's life upside down in high-school and continuing to antagonize him in the present after the former initially tries to make peace with him, Gordo elects to turn Simon's life upside down.
    • During that same dinner, Gordo brings up Simon's "Simon Says" campaign from school, then jokingly applies it to his new job, his beautiful wife, and his Big Fancy House, also mentioning that it shouldn't be hard for him to start a family after finding such success. By the end of the film, Simon has lost both his job and his marriage, and the family he thought he started with Robyn's pregnancy may not even be his.
    • Gordo's mentioning of the "Simon Says" campaign also foreshadows what Robyn learns about his history with Simon, namely that Simon ruined Gordo's life by spreading false rumors at school.
    • Simon mentions midway through the film that his new bosses attended the same high school he did, and the cruel nickname he gave his teacher stuck around for ten years after his graduation. This serves as an early hint that Simon was a bully at his school, and that his actions had far-reaching consequences.
    • Simon mentions to Robyn after her inviting Gordo for dinner about how "it's so amazing how some people change so much after high school and some just stay exactly the same". Gordo appears to have underwent a drastic change after leaving high school due to his traumatic experience of a certain lie that had ruined his childhood, whilst Simon remained the same bully as he is today after leaving high school, who doesn't draw the line at spreading lies either for his own amusement or to gain an advantage at work.
  • Freudian Excuse: Simon's behavior is apparently influenced, at least in part, by how his father treated him. He also references having been nicknamed "simple Simon" indicating that he was a victim of bullying as well as a perpetrator.
  • From Bad to Worse: The ending for Simon. Robyn gives birth, which is certainly welcome news for Simon after her miscarriage. But then Simon is told that he has been fired for what he did to Danny McDonald. Then Robyn says that she doesn't want him home when she leaves the hospital. Then he receives a final gift from Gordo which reveals that he (possibly) impregnated Robyn when she fainted and the baby may not be his.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: From bullied misfit to the person who completely upends the bully's life.
  • Funny Background Event: During the corporate party at Simon's work, the Callums are introduced to another couple. When the wife is introduced, the husband makes a joke that she "answers to anything," which visibly offends her. We can see them having a fight in the background for the rest of the scene.
  • Gaslighting: Every which way. Robyn accuses Simon of letting her think she was going crazy by not telling her about his history with Gordo. He's revealed to have bullied others by spreading malicious gossip. And Gordo's plan is to ruin Simon's life by gaslighting both him and his wife.
  • Gilligan Cut: Simon dismissively states that there's very little chance of him and Robyn attending Gordo's dinner party. Cut to Simon and Robyn driving to Gordo's dinner party.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Simon sabotaging Danny McDonald ends up getting him fired.
  • Ironic Echo: At the dinner party scene, Simon makes a condescending speech to Gordo as he tells him to leave his family alone. Gordo turns that same speech on Simon after revealing that Robyn's baby may not be his.
  • Jerkass: From early on, Simon displays a mocking attitude towards Gordo, initially behind his back and then to his face. It turns out that back in high school, Simon and another student spread a false rumor that Gordo was being molested, which ruined his life and almost got him killed. Simon refuses to either apologize or take responsibility for the incident. Simon also treats Robyn this way during an argument, causing her to slap him.
  • Jump Scare: For a Blumhouse movie, this trope is only used twice, and effectively at that.
  • Karma Houdini: Gordo in the end, assuming he did rape Robyn.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Simon initially got away being a bully in high school and found success in adulthood, but loses it all by the end of the movie thanks to Gordo's revenge plot and his own behavior.
  • Kick the Dog: Simon started the rumor that ruined Gordo's life for no other reason than that he could and refuses to express any remorse or responsibility.
  • Kill It with Fire: Gordo's father tried to burn him alive over the rumor Simon started.
  • Lack of Empathy: Simon never expresses any genuine remorse for how he treated Gordo or the damaging effects he had on his life, dismissing him as a loser who is whining about his lot in life. He also has no remorse over screwing over Danny to get the job the two were vying for. This can be partially attributed to how his own father treated him which made Simon very callous and hard.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Simon spread false rumors about Gordo in high school. Simon gets caught spreading false rumors about Danny, and loses more than the promotion he was aiming for.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Gordo wears a monkey mask when he possibly rapes Robyn.
  • Mock Millionaire: Gordo pretends to be very wealthy by breaking into the home of a client at his limo company and hosting Simon and Robyn there. Possibly downplayed as running a relatively upscale business for wealthy clients would imply he was legitimately at least decently well off, if not quite to the level he pretended to be.
  • Never My Fault: Simon denies any responsibility for what he did to Gordo in high school, and even when he apologizes, it's painfully clear that he's only doing it to make Robyn happy.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer implies that Gordo is eventually moved to attack the house, and shows several scenes with the idea that the movie will become a home invasion slasher at this point. Danny McDonald is the one who throws a rock through the house's window, and neither he nor Gordo make an attempt on Simon's or Robyn's lives. Gordo's revenge is much more elaborate.
  • Nice Girl: Robyn. She's regularly shown to be a legitimately kind and considerate person who makes a sincere effort to be nice to Gordo and tries to encourage Simon to do the same, albeit to no avail. She's also horrified when she finds out what he did to Gordo and is very sympathetic to him, even after his stalking, and tries to get Simon to make things right. Gordo even seems to feel bad about her getting caught in the middle of his campaign against Simon.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Simon could have acknowledged Gordo and admitted what he did was wrong, but his continued bullying of Gordo only convinces him to up the ante.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Simon delivers one to Gordo late in the movie after Gordo refuses to accept his apology. It's framed exactly like a young bully picking on a less fortunate student, showing how little Simon has really changed. However, it's implied that Gordo let Simon beat him up as part of the plan, considering that he's faked some of his injuries at the end and Gordo is mentioned as having been in the Army, meaning he'd likely know how to defend himself.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Gordo wears a sling when he meets Robyn in her hospital room. He takes off the sling in the final scene after he witnesses Simon's breakdown.
  • Police Are Useless: Simon calls in two detectives fairly early in the story after Gordo kills their fish and kidnaps the dog. They have to explain that they do not have enough proof to get a warrant to search Gordo's residence and, while they could question Gordo, he would immediately know who sent them.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Neither Gordo or Simon have changed much since high school, Gordo still being intensely awkward and Simon still being an aggressive and callous bully who refuses to accept responsibility for his actions.
  • Red Herring: Late in the film, someone makes loud stomping noises and throws a rock through a window during Simon's congratulatory party. The trailers and the scene itself are set up like Gordo is the one attacking. It's actually Danny, the employee Simon screwed over to get the job he wanted. Danny's testimony causes Simon to lose his job.
  • Reformed Bully: Simon's friend Greg is implied to be this; while it takes some coercing from Robyn, he's willing to be honest about his part in what happened to Gordo and seems genuinely remorseful for it in stark contrast to Simon.
  • Revenge: The impetus for Gordo's harassment is an incident in high school where Simon spread a rumor that he was being molested, which destroyed his life and caused his father to try to kill him.
  • Revenge Before Reason: It's not explicitly addressed, but Gordo has sacrificed most of his life to destroy Simon's. He was caught using his limo company to trespass in a client's home, apparently destroying his business. When we next see him, he's rather pathetically hosting a bar trivia night. If he actually fathered Robyn's child, he also sets himself up for a rape charge should Simon decide to unveil the DVD and secure a paternity test.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Gordo finally breaks Simon by revealing that he was in the house when Robyn fainted and possibly impregnated her, meaning the baby might not belong to him.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Simon himself, as it turns out. The years don't seem to have changed him any, either; he loses his job and falls out with his wife due to his own behavior, before Gordon's revenge scheme even becomes apparent.
  • Teens Are Monsters: As a teenager, Simon started the rumor that ruined Gordo's life for no other reason than that he could.
  • Too Clever by Half: Simon, showing how little he has changed his habits since his school days, constantly dismisses Gordo as a stupid loser who could never accomplish anything. Beeeeeg mistake.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer reveals that Simon did something to Gordo when they were teenagers, that the reunion goes sour when Simon warns Gordo to stay away from him, and that Gordo eventually puts a plan for revenge into effect. It also shows shots of the rock crashing through Simon's window, the background check Simon ran on Gordo, the tape featuring Gordo in a monkey mask, and a beaten-up Gordo visiting Robyn in the hospital — all of which feed into major plot twists.
  • Twist Ending: Remember that odd incident where Robyn suddenly fainted and mysteriously woke up in bed? Turns out that Gordo was in the house and shot a video which strongly implied that he raped her while she was unconscious and that he was the father of her baby all along. And Gordo refuses to confirm or deny his paternity to Simon, who, since he has been exposed as a liar and his wife intends to leave him, may never know the truth.
  • The Unapologetic: Simon refuses to genuinely apologize for what he did to Gordo and dismisses the idea that he was in any way responsible. His actual apology is clearly forced and insincere and Gordo sees through it and dismisses it as such, going ahead with his plan.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Simon has no problem fudging the truth when it suits him. The lies start to catch up with him towards the end.
  • Villain Has a Point: While Gordo is a creepy stalker and his behavior towards the Callums becomes increasingly threatening, he is right to point out that Simon is a Jerkass who has no considerations for others and hasn't changed since school.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: Gordo leaves his first gift on the Callums' front door, even though neither of them gave him their address, directly. He overheard it while the Callums' were ordering items to be shipped to their new home.