The Girl with All the Gifts (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Colm McCarthy, UK/US, 2016, 111 mins

Cast:  Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Sennia Nanua

Review by Carol Allen

Like the 2006 film “The Children of Men”, this “dystopian future” film features a world where the future of humanity is in the hands of one young girl.   Only in this case she is a flesh eating zombie.

“The Girl with all the Gifts” is though a cut above your average zombie movie with a good script and a strong cast, which presents its concept in an original and unexpected way, relating back to another good British zombie type film  “28 Days Later” (2002).

The story is set in a future where most of us have been infected by a fungal disease, which deletes all thought and emotion and turns humans into mindless, flesh eating “hungries”.  The exceptions are a small group of children, who, while infected with the flesh eating bit, have retained their ability to think and feel.   A small group of them are being held imprisoned in a military camp run by a few still human survivors, where they are being studied psychologically by their teacher Helen Justineau (Arterton) and are subject to lethal experiments by scientist Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Close) in her attempt to find a cure for the disease.

One of the children Melanie (Nanua) is exceptionally talented, aware and intelligent and a bond forms between her and Helen.  When the camp is invaded by “hungries”, a small group, including Melanie, Helen, Caldwell and Sergeant Eddie Parks (Considine) escape.  Melanie is still a prisoner under restraint who could at any moment if released destroy them all but on their journey it is her essential humanity, ingenuity and affection for Helen, which also offers hope for the future.

This is basically a jolly good, gripping story, which has an imaginative and intelligent take on the zombie movie genre and moves at a good pace.   The opening sequences revealing the core situation are particularly well done.   It is well directed and acted and young Sennia Nanua as Melanie is an impressive new young talent.