The Girl with All the Gifts is a British film that is based on the novel of the same name by M.R. Carey. The film, which is also written by the author of the novel, is a story of a fungal infection that has nearly destroyed humanity by turning its victims into zombies. However, just a small group of children are able to withstand the effects of the disease, that is until they become too close to human scent and they are overcome with their desire to feed. These children are educated by a teacher as well as test subjects to a head scientist in hopes to find a cure to save humanity. A journey of survival begins when the teacher, scientist, a couple of soldiers, and a special girl are forced to flee from their military base.
Director Colm McCarthy’s film starts off brilliantly, as the audience sees the children strapped in wheelchairs, with guns pointing at them, despite their appearance of innocence. This causes an apprehensive feeling not only with the children and the fear of what they can become but with their military surroundings as well. There are some very intense moments within the film such as the scene where everyone is fleeing the army base. It is pure chaos, similar to Boyle’s 28 Days Later, and left me gripping my seat. Also, the way the zombies react to the scent of their prey with their snarls and twitching jaws is impressively breathtaking. The score by composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer is an integral part of the film as well, as the composer uses human voices with grunts, hums, and wails to set the chilling mood to draw the viewer into this dystopia. The opening track is a wonderful opener for the film setting the mood perfectly.
Gemma Arterton does a great job as the teacher, Ms. Justineau, who becomes attached to the children, looking past the horror within them and seeing the human side that still resides within them. Glenn Close equally stands out as the scientist, Dr. Cladwell, who sees the children as laboratory specimens to help save the human race. However, special applause goes to Sennia Nanua who plays the gifted girl, Melanie. From the moment Sennia speaks she showcases that sweet innocence of a child, making one forget that within her is a monster ready to feed on human flesh. Sennia really does fabulous work in making audiences care for her and yet be able to portray the monster everyone fears. You can be certain we will be seeing more from Sennia.
The film is truly great until around the final third of the film some characters surprisingly start making odd decisions and the ending was not as satisfying as I had hoped. It’s disappointing as the film started off with such a high and then just gradually declined as it went on. Don’t get me wrong though. The Girl with All the Gifts is still a very good film, with plenty of intense moments and drama, and manages to bring a bit of new life to the zombie genre. Zombie fan or not, The Girl with All the Gifts is a film well worth recommending.