No one was better suited than Sam Raimi to fulfil co-writer Billy Bob Thornton’s vision of The Gift. This supernatural whodunnit is set in the wooded and swampy Southern US town of Brixton, Georgia, which is altogether familiar territory for the director of the Evil Dead movies and producer of the TV series American Gothic. Raimi skilfully builds a sense of tension and unease, using his camera initially with pleasing restraint before letting rip with skewed angles and unpredictable editing effects in a series of disturbing dreams. These belong to local “Fortune Teller” Annie (a mesmerising Cate Blanchett), who “witnesses” the murder of a local good-time girl in her nightmares. As clues and red herrings pile up, it should become obvious that this is a tale more about people and place than plotting and the paranormal. After A Simple Plan it’s clear that Raimi has become a mature film-maker as capable of handling psychological horror as he is at providing shocks. The top-notch ensemble cast give wholly believable performances, making the small-town setting and spooky events come alive superbly. Giovanni Ribisi and Keanu Reeves are ticking timebombs of problems, while Hilary Swank and Greg Kinnear are pathetic yet sympathetic bystanders. This is a movie of startling visions both in front of the camera and behind.