ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Gift (2000)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Sam Raimi

Starring:
Cate Blacnhett/Annie
Keanu Reeves/Danny
Giovanni Ribisi/Buddy
Katie Holmes/Jessica
PLOT-CRUNCH
Annie (Blanchett) is a mother, a widow and a psychic. She makes most of her money giving readings to her fellow town folks. Everyone does not look upon her psychic gift positively. Some backwoods religious morons (yes, I mean you Keanu!) claim she works for the devil (people like that still exist?). Her life gets more complicated when she’s asked to help out on a missing girl case. The girl eventually shows up dead and Annie unwittingly becomes the only person who can really solve the murder. Will the killer get to her before she discovers their identity?
THE LOWDOWN
The Gift boasts some amazing credentials. It’s written by Billy Bob Thornton (co-written with good friend Tom Epperson), it has an all-star cast and is directed by horror maestro Sam Raimi. Did it blow my cap off? No. Is it a very good movie? Yes. This is what I like to call a quiet horror movie. For two hours I witnessed a chain of events that never fully thrilled me but never bored me either (not even close). The film has a few jump scares, some creepy images and some gnarly shots but it never got overwhelming. In fact, if you remove the whole psychic thang, this one could easily go down as a straight drama. It’s a character driven piece with some chilling psychic flashes tossed in the mix.

What stops this flick from being fantastic is that its priorities are messed up (for a horror fan anyways). The drama comes first. All of the characters have something bad going on in their lives and the movie explores that deeply. I don’t mind drama but here all of the characters (except Annie) are too nutty for me to relate with. I had trouble feeling for them (although I did feel bad for super f**ked up Ribisi). The second aspect most explored is Annie’s psychic visions. Yes, they’re creepy and effective but they don’t really bring much to the plot (which concentrates more on domestic horror: child molesting, wife beating…not fun…). The movie also pushes her gift too far. I had trouble buying dead people coming to visit her and giving her solid objects. The least explored aspect is the murder case itself which eventually becomes a whodunit (had me guessing). If the film would have focused more on the grisly aspects, I think that the suspense and tension would have been elevated. The film tries to cover too many territories at the same time and unfortunately the ingredient most needed is only sprinkled about...horror.

Even though the film is soft on the horror vibe, there’s no denying the incredible cast and the solid directing. Raimi really fills this one with a chilling ambiance. But I’m still pondering why the psychic stuff was tossed in there? The movie didn’t really need it or use it to its full potential. Expect a drama and you will be pleased. But if you’re looking for Evil Dead Part 4…this isn’t it. Now stare into these cards…
GORE
A decaying corpse, some light blood…nothing major. This one is more about mood than Ketchup.
ACTING
Cate Blanchett (Annie) is in almost every frame of the film and delivers. She hits all the right notes and I lost myself in her beautiful blue eyes more than once. Keanu Reeves (Danny) is very credible as the wife beating Christian and he doesn’t say "whoa" once. Giovanni Ribisi (Buddy) does very well as the totally messed up dude but he’s played this role before. Greg Kinnear (Wayne) is Greg Kinnear again…great part! Katie Holmes (Jessica) looks delicious in loose dresses… Gary Cole (David) rules one more time and Hollywood should use him more often.
T & A
Here it is what we’ve all been waiting for: the Katie Holmes’s tit shot. It was awesome! Katie, you did not disappoint! Each breast deserves a big WOW! Sorry ladies, Keanu kept his pants on in this one…
DIRECTING
Moody is the word. Raimi gives us the same kind of vibe he put out in "A Simple Plan". He makes great use of the surroundings (the woods) and manages to slip in the slick "Raimi" shots we all love. Eerie bits of high style here, Raimi’s still go the touch.
SOUNDTRACK
I adored the score. A mix of backwoods twang and suicide inducing musical arrangements. It’s not cheery that’s fer sure.
BOTTOM LINE
Cross "Stir Of Echoes" with "Fried Green Tomatoes" and you get a good idea of what The Gift is about. I dug it a lot but considering the immense talent behind it, a tighter and more horrifying script would have been nice…a little more edge to it. It’s still worth the trip, the 12 bucks and the nacho plate though…(sit next to a cute girl/boy/pet).
BULL'S EYE
Supposedly Billy Bob Thornton loosely based this story on his mother's own experiences with her psychic gift.
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