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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Gift(2000)

Yes, I may be a horror nut, but I would have to say that The Gift is Sam Raimi's most accomplished film. Sure, I worship at the altar of The Evil Dead, but these two films are from two different worlds. It's a shame that The Gift isn't more loved, because it's an eerie Southern Gothic tale of psychic ability, deceit, and murder.

The wonderful Cate Blanchett stars as Annie Wilson, a recently widowed psychic in a small Georgia town. She makes her living by giving "readings" to the locals open enough to trust in her abilities. One of them is Valerie Barksdale(Hillary Swank), a backwoods girl who is beat on a daily basis by her husband Donnie(Keanu Reeves). Swank is amazing in this role, and you wouldn't believe how well she masters the look and sound of a "smalltown" girl. Donnie is none too happy about Valerie visiting Annie for what he considers "witchcraft". He begins threatening Annie and her family on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, the local school principal played by Greg Kinnear, is about to marry a local debutante, played by Katie Holmes. What he doesn't know is that Holmes is practically sleeping with the whole town. Annie witnesses this first hand at a party one night. So when Holmes goes missing, Annie starts getting visions of a dead Holmes haunting her. The local law enforcement comes to Annie for help, but they persecute her at the same time. Holmes is found dead, and they arrest Reeves character for the murder(wrongfully so). It's up to Annie to help figure out who and why that Holmes is dead.

The strength of the film lies mostly in the beautiful, swampy, locations, and the wonderful supporting cast. Giovanni Ribisi in particular is amazing, and the plight that he suffers in the film is horrible. I wish Raimi would make more films in this vein, if he is not going to continue the Evil Dead saga, because I feel that he truly made his master work with The Gift.

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