August is not generally a great season for Hollywood movies. The big summer blockbusters have busted their blocks, and you're usually getting legit second- or third-tier offerings in the gap until the awards season offerings. In this regard, "The Gift" truly lives up to its name.

August is not generally a great season for Hollywood movies. The big summer blockbusters have busted their blocks, and you're usually getting legit second- or third-tier offerings in the gap until the awards season offerings. In this regard, "The Gift" truly lives up to its name.

"The Gift" may look like a thriller we've seen before - and it's debt of influences is pretty obvious when you watch it - but its meticulousness in construction is something I didn't think major studios still concerned themselves with.

Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are one of those successful, obnoxiously perfect couples. They've moved to Southern California from Chicago for Simon's new job, relocating in an obnoxiously perfect midcentury modern house in the suburbs.

A random run-in introduces Gordo (Joel Edgerton), a socially awkward former classmate who remembers Simon, though Simon doesn't remember him. Gordo seems a little creepy right off the bat. That's about to get worse.

"The Gift" is the feature debut of Edgerton as writer-director. The Aussie has been a regular character actor - notably in the excellent Australian crime drama "Animal Kingdom" - but I don't think anything would have had me expecting much from his debut.

He's certainly drawing from a wealth of great influences. "Fatal Attraction" is obvious (or any other creepy stalker-y movie), but there are so many nods to other movies, it's fun to count. He's also comfortable working both the slow-building tension of Hitchcock and mixing in some perfectly timed scares that are really scary.

What really sets "The Gift" apart, though, is a story that seems deceptively simple and predictable that then defies those expectations. It's both a satisfying popcorn thriller and a complex morality tale.

Edgerton is spectacularly creepy as Gordo, and Hall's Robyn gives the movie its needed heart and moral compass. The real surprise here is Bateman, who is unexpectedly perfect in a non-comedic role.

"The Gift" gets the heart racing with the occasional jump scare, but it really makes your skin crawl with some of the slow-dawning realizations that are (fair warning) pretty messed-up. It's the kind of movie that makes you want to leave the lights on, and an unexpected late-summer thumbs-up.