EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

EvidenceProf Blog's 1st Annual Halloween Movie Pick: Sam Raimi's "The Gift"

In 1981, director Sam Raimi introduced the world to his unique brand of horror (and sidekick Bruce Campbell), with "The Evil Dead," the first film in a triology which also includes the wackier "Evil Dead 2" and the whacked "Army of Darkness."  Raimi's best known these days for another trilogy, the Spider-Man trilogy, consisting of the enjoyable "Spider-Man," the magnificent "Spider-Man 2," and the execrable "Spider-Man 3."

Before being tapped for the Spidey gig, however, Raimi found himself at a career-low, following up the Kevin Costner baseball flop "For Love of the Game" with the southern-fried, Gothic horror flick, "The Gift."  "The Gift" is by no means a great movie, but it's not without its charms, including some of the most hilarious courtroom scenes ever committed to film.

Cate Blanchett plays Annie Wilson, the local fortune-teller in the small town of Brixton, Georgia.  Wilson's husband died a year ago in a cable plant explosion, and supposedly her character was modeled after the mother of Billy Bob Thornton, who also co-wrote the screenplay.  When the wife (Katie Holmes) of the local school principal (Greg Kinnear) goes missing, Annie has a vision that she was killed and dumped into a pond.  Police then find the body in the pond belonging to Donnie (the unconvincing Keanu Reeves), a man whose battered wife (Hillary Swank) sought counsel with Annie.

This leads to murder charges being brought against Donnie and the hilarity that ensues when Annie is being challenged on her psychic abilities.  Some essential moments include Donnie's attorney (the oily Michael Jeter) asking Annie how many fingers he's holding up behing his back and why, if Annie is a psychic, she couldn't predict and prevent her husband's death. 

All in all, "The Gift" is a creative misfire and less creepy than Raimi's masterpiece, "A Simple Plan," but the interesting assortment of actors make the pic worth a look-see for the vast majority of people who missed it in theaters.

-CM

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