Do not watch this film when you are alone. It is too scary. It is refreshing, however, because it has no special effects, car chases, or explosions, which seem to be the essence of most movies today. Also, do not be lulled into serenity in the first half-hour; it ramps up very soon.
A young couple, Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn Callen (Rebecca Hall) have just moved from Chicago to a suburb of Los Angeles where Simon is offered a lucrative position with a corporate security firm. He is ambitious and hopes to move up quickly in the organization. A second perk is that they have moved back to Simon’s home town.
While out shopping for supplies for their new home which Robyn is designing and decorating, they are approached by Gordon Mosely (Joel Edgerton), who recognizes Simon as an old high school classmate. Simon initially does not remember Gordon. Robyn is happy to meet someone from Simon’s past since her husband does not often speak about his childhood. In fact, he states that he has never seen any of his high school friends since graduation. They plan to get in touch with each other in the near future.
Incidentally, Joel Edgerton not only acts in this film; he has also written and directed it. It is his directorial debut, and has received numerous plaudits for his efforts.
Gift Bottle of Wine - dreamstime
A few days after their meeting, Robyn finds a gift on their doorstep - a bottle of wine and a “welcome home” note. Robyn suggests they invite Gordon for dinner as a thank you for his kind gesture. Simon is more reluctant, states that Gordon is a bit odd and was always known as “Gordo the Weirdo” in their high school days. Robyn wins out, though, and “Gordo” is invited to dinner, which turned out to be stilted and awkward.
Robyn is successful in her own right, having been a well-known designer back in Chicago. She is taking some time off, though, having had a miscarriage, and does some work for the company online. They both look forward to starting a family and are happy for their newest adventure in California. Their dog, Bo-Jangles, is a loved member of their household.
Strangely, Gordo continues to leave gifts on their doorstep, including a package of fish food. They find their outdoor pond freshly filled with three large goldfish.
When Gordo invites Simon and Robyn to dinner at his well-appointed, elegant home, they both hesitate to continue the awkward friendship, but reluctantly go since Gordo has also invited another young couple he wants them to meet. When they arrive, the couple is not there. They had a last-minute conflict when their baby-sitter did not show up. Gordo then received a phone call, which he claimed is from his work, and leaves for a few minutes to take care of some unknown problem. Simon and Robyn take the opportunity to examine the upstairs and are surprised at what they find. Gordo seems not to be what he claims to be. When he returns, Simon tells Gordo frankly that they want to end the friendship and leave the premises hurriedly.
Wrapped Gift - Pixabay
The next day, Bo-Jangles is missing and the fish are dead. Of course, Simon blames Gordo. He stalks over to Gordo’s home to confront him. The lady of the house answers the door; it is not Gordo’s home.
At this point in the story, we learn that Robyn has some mental issues, probably stemming from her miscarriage, and has taken some of her neighbor’s pills from their medicine cabinet. She frequently drinks Gatorade, and has a fainting spell after coming back from her run to drink the Gatorade. She also becomes fearful in her own home, seeming to hear footsteps and doors closing, but Simon feels it is her imagination.
They receive another note from Gordo saying that he is sorry for troubling them and is willing to “let bygones be bygones.” Robyn is curious about what this means as she knows so little about Simon’s past. She wants to ignore it at this point because she has learned that she is pregnant and wants to concentrate on her own health.
However, at her baby shower, Robyn prods Simon’s sister for information about Gordo and learned that, during their high school days. Simon and his friend Greg came upon Gordo being molested by another student in the parking lot and reported it to school authorities. Gordo, from that point on, was regarded as gay. His father threatened to kill him for his actions. Robyn went to see Greg, now a successful chiropractor, to get more information. Greg informed her that Simon was a popular kid, the President of his class, but was a bully who had a mean streak. Neither Simon nor Greg retracted the manufactured story, and it remained a part of Gordo’s past.
Sometime thereafter, Simon received the promotion he coveted when his one competition for the job (Danny McDonald) was found to have some troubles in his past which eliminated him from receiving the promotion. Simon and Robyn are ecstatic about this latest occurrence and invite some friends and colleagues to their home to celebrate.
Joel Edgerton - Writer, Director, Actor - Wikimedia Commons
While the celebration is happening, a rock is thrown at their plate glass window. Simon believes that Gordo is continuing his hi-jinx. But no, Danny McDonald is the culprit. He had discovered that it was Simon who made up the lies which put Danny out of the running for the job. Robyn goes into labor because of the upsetting circumstances, and Simon takes her to the hospital where she has a healthy baby boy.
Robyn now sees Simon for what he is: a bully and a creep. He managed to ruin Gordo’s life, and he was fired from his job when his boss found out that he lied about Danny McDonald. From her hospital bed after giving birth, she tells Simon their marriage is over.
This is not the end of the film, however. Another gift is placed on their doorstep. A surprising and shocking ending is yet to come - it is something that no viewer could have imagined. It is why this movie is called a psychological thriller. Every episode provides a new twist and turn. Not only that, it provides a good lesson today for teenagers that bullying can produce negative effects, not only for the victim but for the bully himself. It is a heart-breaking story which causes the audience to be somber on the way out of the theater. Be prepared not to be uplifted, but to feel desolate.