From Warner Bros Pictures UK and director Colm McCarthy, comes the big screen adaptation of the groundbreaking zombie novel by Mike Carey — The Girl with All The Gifts. Starring Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close and Paddy Considine, the film was released in the UK on September 23, 2016 and still doesn’t have a North American Wide Release locked in at this time.
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Colm McCarthy’s adaptation of Mike Carey’s zombie thriller novel ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ is a haunting and brilliant slice of horror that puts other undead movies to shame. The UK does their zombies correctly and they know it (Dead Set baby – if you never watched the mini-series – get to it). Melanie, played by Sennia Nanua, is the smartest kid in her class. Every day she wakes up, gets strapped into her chair and is wheeled into a room full of other children who are all tethered to their desks and they learn about the periodic table, history and more. There’s just one small catch – these younglings are all infected with a fungal zombie virus which turns them into ravenous cannibalistic psychos when they catch the natural scent of a living thing.
People wear this body lotion which blocks their human smells, so that it makes the kids less feral in the underground bunker which is run by the military and backed by scientific experiments. Glenn Close plays woman hellbent on finding a cure, even if it means dissecting a few of Melanie’s classmates along the way. Gemma Arterton is Melanie’s teacher and the small but extremely clever zombie/human hybrid child is infatuated with her instructor, to the point where she will do anything to save her when all hell breaks loose at the compound and a few are forced to flee. Paddy Considine plays the militant leader of this pack and although he’s overly cautious of Melanie, he plays a sympathetic warrior and not once did I find him to be the villain of the story.
The antagonists in The Girl With All The Gifts are the horde of infected who, unlike your traditional zombies, move at a rapid pace and attack with a viciousness along the lines of 28 Days Later. These are your ‘infected’ zombies, as opposed to the traditional shambling undead. The way their mouths chatter and move is scary to say the least… There’s a moment in the laboratory where a woman is turned and she begins lapping up blood off the floor and moving in such animalistic and frightening ways that I was truly disturbed, but fell in love all the same with these original and fresh takes on zombies in a market that is flooded with them in recent years thanks to The Walking Dead.
The action is fierce and there’s one scene in particular where an infected is running through a hallway only to smash through a window and bite someone’s arm where I literally went jaw to the floor ‘holy shit’. After that, Glenn Close smashes one of their heads with a damn fire extinguisher and we witness absolute mayhem as Melanie and a few survivors flee the facility. The panic and chaos was filmed exquisitely and every subsequent sequence after our group heads on the road in search of safety, was done in such an uncomfortably intense way that I found myself holding my breath on several occasions. The score – my god the music from Cristobal Tapia de Veer, which was this electronic and ghostly soundtrack made the film so much better and original throughout. I’ve not heard something this unique since Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ work in The Social Network.
The Girl With All The Gifts is a strong adaptation of the source material which I loved, but it takes the story even further and to more extreme places which I applaud director Colm McCarthy for taking us on such a disturbing thrill ride. Melanie is a lovable little beast and her motives when they become clear are so innocent, so loving in her own twisted way that I couldn’t help but like her even when she’s devouring a cat or using a dog to lure a swarm of zombies away from her friends. This is a zombie film with heart, moving performances by wonderful cast and incredible score by Cristobal Tapia de Veer. If you’re looking for some twisted original zombie fun, watch this immediately if you get the chance.