So two strong suspense films - which to watch? The Gift is probably going to be on best films of the year lists while No Escape is an exploitation movie that won’t offer much to people who don’t know what an exploitation movie is.

The Gift was one of those movies that sort of came out of nowhere. Blumhouse Productions, the people behind The Gift, are more well known for their horror films now but they do put together some strong films that let directors take some risks. Think Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem or Whiplash. However they’re sort of now doing a lot of sequels to their popular horror films. With The Gift they get pretty far away from that territory.

The Gift is largely the work of writer/director/actor Joel Edgerton. Great at pulling you into that “did something move in the background” frame of mind a large chunk of the film is actually an examination of a couple trying to keep it together after moving back to the husbands hometown. They have some baggage but when the husband meets an old acquaintance from school things get creepy. The old acquaintance starts leaving gifts at their home. Things escelate from there. Expertly shot and well acted the film just pulls you deeper through the layers of it’s story. Watch the film with someone else so you can talk about it afterwards. It will stay with you.

No Escape is the work of John Erick Dowdle, director of Quarantine, Devil, and As Above So Below. Not the best track record from what I hear-the only one I saw was Devil. It wasn’t that bad. But I don’t know if I’d really reccomend it to anyone, it’s more a movie you watch cause it’s on and you don’t feel like stopping it. No Escape leave the world of horror for a look at a tense journey of a man and his family trying to escape as a city somewhere in Southern Asia starts to fall apart. (I say somewhere but we find out towards the end the city is very close to Vietnam so in actuality there are only a few places it can be.)

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This film has received tremendous flack. While I can see the point of view, literally every villain in the film is an asian person who apparently murders foreigners indescriminately, at the same time I think to tell this story they don’t really have much of an option. Essentially the film is trying to get out the dark reality of how less developed nations are dealt with on the international scene. Think Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Well, the film isn’t essentially about this, but this is how it’s set up so to tell this story you have to use people from one of these regions.

Essentially the film is really about survival and doing whatever it takes. In a few hours a man goes from law abiding to a killer in order to keep his family safe. The film will pull you through some dark places and it’s essentially too dark for it’s own good. Yeah if it was a little lighter you’d see these poster quotes like “a thrill-ride” or something. But when a movie gets too dark you don’t see that sort of a quote come up.

So both films are good but I think The Gift is probably the one people really “need to see.” The film is very well done in basically every respect. Lots of stuff is in your head. No Escape is the sort of suspense film though that’s littered with corpses and a few strong set-piece events. Some very strong moments overall but the film doesn’t really push that far beyond is exploitation efforts. Still if you like exploitation movies it’s probably the most high profile one in recent years and very worth a watch.