The Gift (2000) movie poster

(2000) dir. Sam Raimi

Sam Raimi’s The Gift was a decent paranormal thriller. It had moments.

But it had a lot of annoying celebrities in it, too.

My most-hated actor, Giovanni Ribisi, annoys in his own special way. I can’t recall if I actually watched some portion of the terrifying film, The Other Sister, which was Juliette Lewis’s return to acting after rehab or something, in which she plays a “mentally-challenged” girl who falls in love with a “mentally-challenged” boy (Ribisi — see there is a connection here), or if I just saw the trailers. But somehow, playing “mentally-challenged” characters is something that Ribisi prides himself on. In The Gift, he takes a lot of screen time on a side-plot, being “mentally-challenged.” He annoys.

Keanu Reeves (want to talk “mentally-challenged”?) plays a “bad” guy who beats up his white-trash wife, Hillary Swank. They are both annoying. It’s painful to watch Keanu “act”. Swank, who was brilliant in Boys Don’t Cry, seems like an enormous hack playing trailer trash, sporting such a weird “trash” hairdo that she just looks really weird. Annoying.

Greg Kinnear was very funny in Mystery Men, but otherwise, seems to specialize in annoyance.

Katie Holmes was even annoying.

Cate Blanchett, the real “star” of this ensemble, actually doesn’t annoy. She doesn’t impress, but she doesn’t annoy, so kudos to her.

As for Sam Raimi, the man behind the camera, one has to wonder if he used up all of his genius on Evil Dead II and left absolutely nothing for the rest of his career.

OK, that is harsh, he’s done decent work, like A Simple Plan and this film, too, to a lesser extent. I honestly couldn’t bring myself to see For the Love of the Game which he made with Kevin Costner. For the loathing of the name.

I watched a part of the cast and crew interviews made for this disk. Raimi says at one point that he almost didn’t do this film because it “seemed too dark.” Dude! This is his area of expertise! What is he talking about? It seems that he is trying to push his career further into mainstream Hollywood and does not want to be pigeon-holed as someone who specializes in horror/thriller material or something? I don’t know. With his live-action (sort of) Spiderman due out in a couple of months, one seriously wonders what drives him.

Raimi, do you still have it in you? Or is it all spent?