The Girl with All the GiftsCultureCinemaMovie reviews
While classified within the horror genre, The Girl with All the Gifts – although exceedingly horrifying to be sure – is perhaps more sci-fi than horror. Traditional zombie movies portray hoards of walking dead mindlessly chomping on human flesh; there is certainly that element here, but these zombies have a little more style than the usual blood and guts obsessed variety. In fact they are not walking dead but humans infected with a fungal virus that has decimated the world and renders the afflicted insane, witless devourers of the uninfected. Unlike conventional zombies, they can be killed.
Opening with scenes of imprisoned children in shackles, at gunpoint in a military facility, the story is revealed as an intriguing mystery to viewers who have not read the original book by Mike Carey (also the film’s screenwriter), soon to discover they are second-generation carriers of the virus who retain their mental faculties while only losing control if they smell human flesh. Equipped with a “blocker gel”, the facility’s military personnel are able to ward off what they call “the Hungries”, although it doesn’t completely guarantee their safety.
Directed by Colm McCarthy, it is not what you would expect from a zombie horror flick. Just when you thought the genre was becoming worn, the movie exhibits a fresh take on the subject, actually more frightening because a step closer to possible reality. A rabid animal will savagely attack; not so farfetched to imagine a pathogen that turns people into monsters. Another sci-fi element to this story, adding interest, is that the virus mutates, the flesh-eaters evolving into plant structures.
Glenn Close is quite remarkable as Dr. Caroline Caldwell, a rather frightening Dr. Mengele-type determined to find a cure for the disease by dissecting the hybrid children, especially Melanie (Sennia Nanua), who is highly intelligent. Teacher Helen Justineau (well-played by Gemma Arterton), particularly fond of Melanie, tries to thwart Caldwell’s attempts to experiment on her. Nanua is very convincing as a young girl trying to survive a cruel fate, imagining better things, brilliant and loving, but a formidable, tough little survivor, both a mortal danger to and a saviour of the humans around her.
With intense and effective cinematography and soundtrack, good writing, directing and acting, and skilful editing, The Girl with All the Gifts is thought-provoking and truly scary
The Girl with All the Gifts is released nationwide on 23rd September 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Girl with All the Gifts here: