Review: “The Girl With All the Gifts” Is a Fresh, New take on the Zombie Sub-genre



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Posted January 16, 2017 by

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It is far from easy, to create a zombie movie that feels original these days. The genre has been done to death, and more often than not the results are ho-hum at best. In director Colm McCarthy’s “The Girl With All the Gifts”, we are given something rare and impressive in that it is not only original but also beautiful and profound. Adapting from the novel of the same name (written by Mike Carey who also wrote the screenplay), McCarthy gives us an incredible recreation of one of horror’s many burnt out sub-genres.

Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is one of twenty children being held in a military compound. Strapped into wheelchairs and locked in cells, they are treated as dangerous monsters… because they are. The zombie virus (here depicted as a fungal infection) that has all but destroyed humanity has affected these kids in a different way. They maintain the ability to feel and reason, but still thirst for human flesh.

When the military base falls to the “Hungries”, Melanie is forced to flee along with her teacher (Gemma Arterton), a grizzled sergeant (Paddy Considine), and a scientist (Glenn Close) who wants to use Melanie to create a cure to the plague that is ending the world. Innocent-faced and inquisitive, Melanie seems on the surface like a sweet, harmless child. The group knows better though, and keep her in chains until they realize that her ability to blend in with the creatures surrounding them can be used as an advantage… if they can learn to trust her.

McCarthy does something really effective with the story, in that he never lets it become anything close to cliche. Sure there are scenes of brutal violence, with more than enough blood and brains, but the real heart of the film is the long adventure the group sets out on and the lessons they learn on the way. Also wonderful is the coming-of-age tale involving Melanie. The more she experiences and learns, the more individualistic she becomes. In turn, she questions whether or not saving humanity is really the right thing, resulting in a brilliant climax at the end of the film.

“The Girl With All the Gifts” was a film I wanted to see in 2016, but sadly didn’t get around to (it might have made my top 10 if I had). I am glad I finally saw it though, and think it might be one of my three or four favorite zombie flicks of the 21st century. It has originality, great acting, some gorgeous cinematography by Simon Dennis, and a really strong ending. You should all definitely add it to your “To watch” list, and make it sooner than later!




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