Annie (Cate Blanchett) is a highly gifted woman with psychic powers who lives independently, looking after three boys after the passing of her husband. She gets by each day by using her giftings to help locals from the community. For a price, she helps with things like relationship matters, like for Valerie (Hilary Swank), who is suffering abuse, or trying to help heal dark pasts, such as for Buddy (Giovanni Ribisi). We soon learn that not everyone likes what Annie offers the community. Some say she’s fake, while others, such as Valerie’s partner Donnie (Keanu Reeves), begin to threaten Annie and claim that she’s conducting the devil’s work.
While Annie is dealing with life and the troubles from the community, one of the locals from the neighbourhood, Jessica (Katie Holmes), goes missing without a trace. The local police department, including Sheriff Pearl (J.K. Simmons) and Jessica’s partner Wayne (Greg Kinnear), are all baffled and left scratching their heads, struggling to find clues or solid trails to solve the case. Soon, Jessica’s father, Kenneth (Chelcie Ross), becomes desperate and requests Annie’s help. He asks her to use her gift to seek answers and find the truth behind the sudden disappearance. Annie begins to suffer from various dreams and horrifying premonitions, which lead to more clues and even an arrest for Jessica’s disappearance. The question is, have they got the right man for the crime?
The Gift is best described as a thriller with some moments of horror. Given the plot outline, there is a little of ‘whodunit’ in there too. Directed by Sam Rami, who is well known for directing the Evil Dead franchise, this film delivers a few new creative aspects, which are enjoyable to see. Rami also offers some familiar touches, especially regarding jump scares and horror. Firstly, having a mystery for most of the film is excellent, and the finale is unpredictable.
I enjoyed Cate Blanchett’s performance as Annie. Annie is put in many difficult situations, and everything around her only worsens. Annie desires to help those who need it, but as a consequence, we see her have many conflicts with others in her community, plus having to deal with a possible murderer lurking around. Cate Blanchett successfully brings many emotions to the surface, showing fear, worry and confidence when required to stand up for herself. For the most part, side performances are also great. Keanu Reeves plays Donnie, a man filled with anger, threatening words, and violence towards Annie. Giovanni Ribisi and Hilary Swank are also great here. However, the performances of Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes are sadly weaker, especially when they appear on-screen as a couple.
Overall, it’s welcoming to see director Sam Rami deliver a thriller that carries his classic touch of horror and tackles the whodunit genre along with new aspects. As a story, I found this journey quite enjoyable, and the finale is also unpredictable on the first watch. The film has a great atmosphere and a few good unsettling moments throughout. Performances are strong, with actress Cate Blanchett delivering an excellent character and bringing an extensive range of emotion and drama as her character tackles many hurdles. The Gift doesn’t demand countless rewatches, but it’s a fun story with many elements that I admire and will always enjoy.