About a third of the way through The Gift, Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn’s (Rebecca Hall) St. Bernard, Bojangles, goes missing. This occurs soon after Simon has unceremoniously broken things off with his suspicious former classmate Gordo (Joel Edgerton). A dead dog is a cheap, but effective way to establish pathos, and it seems like The Gift is interested in devastating its audience in this way. But then a few days later, Bojangles is back home and perfectly fine. He survives the film, and there is never any explanation as to whether Gordo kidnapped him or any foul play is involved.

The whole m.o. of The Gift is to leave the audience hanging. [I’M KEEPING IT VAGUE, BUT SPOILER ALERT NONETHELESS.] About halfway through, there is a twist that flips the script of a typical “unwelcome visitor from the past” thriller. Then there is a much nastier twist at the end that is unnerving, bordering on exploitative. The mystery of Bojangles is a microcosm of the whole film’s unsolved, but mercilessly teased mystery. Simon is right to worry about Gordo, but ultimately he does not know exactly why he must worry, and therein lies the rub.