Quick Hit: A refreshing breath of fresh air in the tired, shambling zombie genre.
The zombie genre is pretty tired right now. After years of having The Walking Dead on TV, along with its spin off in Fear, combined with all the horror movies that feature the undead, it’s easy to understand. One of the most refreshing movies of the past few decades was the 28 Days Later series, which introduced zombies that were coming after you in an all-out way. But even that has gotten old, and so the genre has started to flounder in ratings and box office results.
The good news is, at least a few people have a new idea to present thanks to The Girl With All the Gifts.
Besides who would win in monster fights, zombie genres present a lot of interesting questions. Some movies go the fun way to answering the question – like Dead Alive’s Zombie Baby – and some go the deeper way. GWATG answers the same question about zombie babies by presenting us with seemingly human zombies (here known as Hungries) that only present their true colors when exposed to the scent of live meat. The fate of the human race as it currently exists, hidden in bunkers and protected areas, lies with Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close) and her experimentation on these young Hungries.
There is one in particular that is a stand out, and that’s Melanie (Sennia Nanua). She’s active in class and seems to have a modicum of control over her more violent desires. She idolizes her teacher Ms. Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) and despises Sgt. Parks (Paddy Considine), in charge of the security of the young Hungries. Eventually, events happen that cause our happy troop to go on the road, leading to more discoveries about Melanie and about the Hungries.
Honestly, the film’s premise is really good. It’s different and there were almost no moments where I experienced boredom. The plot moves along quickly, but takes its time in moments that need it. The best moments (well, at least the most interesting ones) are the ones shared between Melanie and Dr. Caldwell. It raises interesting questions regarding the integrity of species. If you are the greater species, or the one with the better chance to survive, should you help do something to ensure the survival of the lesser species, especially if it means the death of yourself? These are interesting questions that rarely get raised in films, but important nonetheless.
Young Nanua does a great job throughout the film, and only falters at a few moments that I think would have been hard for anyone to sell (like the exacting dominance scene, as harrowing as it is). I always love it when I see Considine (previously reviewed in Miss You Already) in film, and Arterton does a good job as the conflicted teacher. Close though is the films best character, and her acting is still unparalleled. I’ll also give some props to the myriad of different Hungry extras, who all are fun and exciting in their role.
The makeup for the Hungries is good as well.
So, if you’re looking for a different take on the zombie/horror/survivalist genre, I would highly advise you to check it out. There’s some small missteps, but they’re minor, leading to my grade of a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"