Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Analysis of Characters in The Gift (2015)

When I first saw a trailer for The Gift I didn't think much of it. It just seemed like another bad horror movie. I figured that it wasn't worth my time and was fully ready to put it out of my mind altogether. That was until I heard it getting some good reviews from some of my favorite reviewers (that I really need to start keeping up with more again) and decided I would check it out when possible.

Recently I got it from Netflix and watched it with some snacks. It was an all around good movie and way better than the trailers made it out to be. This post I'm going to be analyzing the three main characters and won't get into details about some of the shots used.
Set Up

The movie starts off with Simon and Robyn moving into a new house to start over. At first they appear to be an extremely happy couple that are there for each other. Just your average couple that you wouldn't look twice at.

The opening shots of the movie are of the house and only a little ways in do you get to see people. Then it is just average salesperson doing a pitch and the husband getting the wife's approval. Just your average couple moving in.
The scene after they decide on buying the house, Simon goes to a hardware store. There he and Robyn run into Gordo. I love the shot of Gordo's reveal and it was the one shot of the movie that gave me hope that this wouldn't be as crummy as the trailer made it out to be.

Instead of focusing on Gordo, the camera just puts him in the background with no more importance than any other background character. If you hadn't seen the trailer you wouldn't have known he was a main character in the film. As the scene with Simon goes on you keep seeing Gordo in the background until he says hello to Simon.

Upon Gordo introducing himself to Simon, the latter doesn't realize who he is. It takes some time until Simon remembers the man he knew in childhood.
As the film progresses, the dark history between Simon and Gordo is brought to light. Slowly we are given what happened between the two that is making Gordo seek revenge on Robyn's husband. And by the end of the film Simon is less than a sympathetic character.
Gordo is not Good

In the past Simon spread lies about Gordo. One of them was that he was gay which lead his own father to react more than a little violently to the news. Even if Gordo was gay it is beyond harmful, disrespectful, and rude to out someone because their own family members might attack them.

The lies spread by Simon ended up ruining any change of a good life Gordo could hope to have. It is a horrible backstory that explains why Gordo does the things he does. But, at the end of the day, this doesn't justify bad behavior. This doesn't make any of the stalking any better or more moral.
However, that doesn't mean Gordo's actions aren't justified. He doesn't immediately start going after
Simon and his tactics are more psychological than physical. Okay, so he did set up all that spying equipment to monitor Robyn and Simon. And he probably had the whole plan set up from the very beginning.

But the point is that he still gives Simon time to prove that he has changed. The recording of Gordo "raping" Robyn would probably not have been filmed, much less shown to the husband, if he thought that Simon had truly changed.

I feel the people who say Gordo should have let things go are the same type of people that don't understand what Gordo feels. When you are beaten and harassed by someone, you don't want someone else to get justice for you. You want to get it yourselves.

Besides, sometimes you could say that karma acts through you.
It is left up for the viewer to decide if Gordo killed the fish or stole Jangels for a short time. On the surface this is an easy question as the 'villain' of the film is so creepy that killing and stealing an animal to mentally torture people seems a given.

The fish being killed seems more like something that Simon could easily pull off. He could then easily say that Gordo did it and drive the blame away from himself. Besides doing that he could also push any lingering likability that Robyn has for Gordo away. I don't believe that he actually left a note for Robyn and Gordo after 'killing' the fish.

Jangles, on the other hand, did have a note connected with his return. Besides that, playing mind games with people is more of Gordo's style. He never harmed Jangels, just stole him for a long enough period that his prey would get worried. While he doesn't aim to harm Robyn, this isn't the worse he has done all things considered.
Simon is not Good

While Simon is the victim of Gordo's games, he is far from an innocent man. Back when Simon was a kid, he liked to tell lies about people because he could. He had no remorse for what he did then, even if it did end up ruining Gordo's chance at a good future, but he was just a kid. Kids aren't the most moral of people.

Childhood is really all about learning to be a better person. That isn't to say once you're an adult you're suddenly kind and wise, it just means you've had the time to get a better sense of the world and your place in it.
Problem is that Simon is still very much a bully. He hasn't grown up from childhood and is not just a more adult version of his younger self. One of the lies he spreads is for personal gain as he is seeking a position in his company. He feels no remorse when the victim is blamed of horrible things. Simon is greedy and self-centered only regretting his actions once they have negative consequences for him.

Luckily Simon is found out and is quickly fired from the company.
By the end of the film I didn't care that Simon was hurt. I didn't care that he felt broken since his wife had broken up with him after giving birth. I didn't care that he felt broken because he lost the job he had tarnished someone's reputation to get. He is a horrible person and, quite frankly, he had all of this coming to him since he had never moved on from childhood.

Simon blames Gordo of not moving on, but Simon never moved on either. He never grew morally and emotionally from childhood. He, too, is stuck in the mindset he had as a child.
Robyn is Innocent

Robyn is the most innocent person in this film. Her one problem is that she just happens to be married to Simon. That is the only reason she is dragged into this mess. She is trying to be a working woman, have a kid, and usually stays at home.

She doesn't manipulate people subtly or with a big show like Simon. She hasn't ruined a person's entire life nor does she get extremely nasty when trying to get a position. She even believes that you shouldn't be stuck with how you were as a child.

While the movie gets into detail about both Simon and Gordo's lives, her history is a little bit of a mystery. So seeing how much Robyn has changed since childhood can't be determined.
Robyn didn't enter into a relationship with Simon while knowing his past. As the movie goes on and she learns more about the man she married, she doesn't like it. Eventually she leaves him and seems fine with it. She even makes sure that Simon can't see their child as she doesn't want anything to do with her former husband.

So if Robyn did know the sordid details about Simon before marrying him, they would have never stayed together. She would realize that he hasn't changed since he was a child and there isn't a good chance that he'll change now, so she'd leave him.

But she didn't get that choice before the movie starts and so she gets put in the plans of a childhood rivalry.
Even when Gordo is at his strangest, Robyn trusts him. She is kind to the man which gives him even less of a reason to do any harm to her. By her actions she shows that she is much different than the man that she married.

Robyn isn't quick at all to dismiss Gordo on Simon's advice. She hates that her husband is being so childish about his childhood acquaintance. It might be that he even told her something at the end of the movie that distanced her from Simon even more.

Gordo still has a plan to enact and she gives him no reason to do anything more than he had originally planned.
Whose Baby Was It

Here is the big cliffhanger of the movie: who is the father of Robyn's child?

Near the end of the film Simon watches a video of Robyn possibly being raped by Gordo. I say possibly because the scene is shot so oddly that you can't tell for certain that intercourse was going on. This was intentional on Gordo's part because he was playing mind games on Simon.

Remember how I brought up that Robyn was extremely kind to Gordo?

With Gordo only planning to play mind games and there being no animosity with Robyn, he wouldn't be so callous as to rape her. You might bring up that he was already callous enough to spy on Robyn and Simon. You may also bring up that he drugged Robyn, broke in, and played with her unconscious body.

To that I say: but that doesn't mean he would rape her.

Just because someone is creepy and does unkind things doesn't mean they would rape a woman. Robyn was thrown in the middle of everything which meant Gordo had to do things to her so Simon would be hurt. He never went beyond what he had to and raping her would serve no purpose to his plan.
Gordo's goal was to play mind games with Simon and to drive Robyn away from him. Those were the only real goals he had in mind. Near the end of the movie Gordo makes it out like Simon's beating of him was worse than it was by wearing a sling for his arm. You can tell it's not actually needed when he takes it off (this can also be read as being symbolic of Gordo putting the past behind him).

So Gordo didn't need to be extremely beat up to appear that way to Robyn, he merely had to make her believe the lie. That is like only making Simon believe he raped his wife when that never actually happened.

Some of you may be saying that Gordo needs the baby to be his so he had to rape Robyn. But that isn't true. Finding out that the baby was his would make Robyn believe Simon and in their mutual distaste have a chance at getting back together. This wouldn't please Gordo as he wanted to ruin Simon's life like the man ruined his. Faking the rape would be much more efficient because then Robyn would assume Simon is just trying to get her to hate Gordo again and therefore make there not be a chance that they would get back together.
Lending credence to this theory is the fact that in an alternate ending to the movie it is clearly revealed that Gordo didn't rape Robyn. While alternate/deleted scenes shouldn't be held up as clearly canonical, it does give us an indication where the filmakers wanted to take the movie.

They probably changed the ending so that it wasn't as clear but still intended to have the same answer: Gordo didn't rape Robyn.
Please leave a comment about characters from The Gift, even those I didn't mention. Also comment below to suggest future posts for this blog.




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