The Girl With All The Gifts (15)
Directed by: Colm McCarthy
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close & Paddy Considine
Running time: 1hr 51mins
A scientist and a teacher living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.
Getting a zombie film right can be murder. For every entry of note, a thousand other corpses lie festering in a heap. Fans of the undead have grown weary thanks to over exposure, and when the shuffling, flesh eating masses are even exiled into playing minor roles in The Walking Dead, you worry that the zombie ship has sailed.
Hallelujah, then, for The Girl with All the Gifts!
Okay, it isn’t necessarily an out-and-out zombie movie. It has echoes of Romero’s original undead trilogy, especially the overlooked Day of the Dead. Building on that foundation, this could almost be a companion film for 28 Days Later, with an outbreak catalyst that will have fans of The Last of Us smiling from ear to ear.
Let’s not get bogged down with what this is like, instead let’s talk about what makes this different – and this is a list that rolls on for days.
What makes the majority of this viewing experience so damn good is the fact you always feel like you’re catching up; dropped right into this world, you’re left so unsettled by the military experiments and the imprisoned children that the film opens on, that curiosity is almost too much. You’ll get a little more – it’s a military stronghold against ‘the infection’ – and a little more – there may even be a cure here – but the pandaemonium that is soon unleashed sets off a riotous series of events that will have hearts in mouths and bums on the edges of seats until the finale.
This is a beautifully crafted story carried by a superb cast. And the shining star of the entire film isn’t Gemma Arterton, though she excels in reaching a level you’ve never seen her at before. It isn’t Glenn Close, who initially seems like an odd choice, but fits in perfectly from her first moment on screen. It isn’t even Paddy Considine, who adds as many intertwining layers as is physically possible to a character who isn’t a good guy, or a bad guy, but is simply trying to get by.
No no, the stand out is Sennia Nanua. A lot can be said about the calibre of child acting stepping up its game recently – just look at Room or Stranger Things – but what she does is powerful and playful all at once. She carries the film on her very small shoulders, presenting an unknowing victim who transformers into something else entirely by the end credits. The innocence she brings to a world of violence and cold steel and death is beautiful and sorrowful all at once, and will carry you from scene to scene effortlessly.
Whether it’s the claustrophobic feel of its first third, the intense paranoia of what’s around the next corner in the second or the twisting, turning conclusion, The Girl with All the Gifts will shock, delight and entertain, leaving audiences screaming and laughing and crying for more, itching at it as though it were a fresh zombie bite for days to come.
5 out of 5 Nerds