A zombie-morality masterpiece.
When you hear “zombie movie”, there’s a few that’ll likely come to mind; 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead perhaps? These are excellent examples, whereas the surge of zombie films in the past decade can, generally, be described as trash. Well, The Girl with All the Gifts is here to change that.
Based on the bestselling book of the same name, it’s set in a tragic, dystopian future where a virus has spread immeasurably on a global scale, and kids who have the same virus are held prisoner to study them.
Sennia Nanua stars as Melanie, a young girl who immediately stands out from the rest. She’s kind, honest but nevertheless still dangerous. Her performance should propel her into stardom, as she seamlessly switches from a naive, innocent child to hungry, aggressive zombie.
On Melanie’s side is the sympathetic Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton), whilst on the opposing side we have the intimidating Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine). There’s also Dr Caldwell (Glenn Close), who believes the kids are the answer to a cure – although she doesn’t really believe they’re ‘kids’ at all. However, when their base is compromised, they must work together to survive.
The ensemble as a whole are excellent, boasting terrific performances from Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close, each having a quality that’ll keep you engrossed to the very end. Considine and Close’s characters will strike you as villains, but as the time runs on, your moral compass will twirl.
Director Colm McCarthy, who’s previous work includes episodes of Peaky Blinders and Sherlock, hasn’t tumbled in his transition to the big screen. Every shot feels chosen, like it has a particular importance to the whole experience. Working with Mike Carey, who wrote the original book, they have brought this zombie apocalypse to life in a believable, grounded way. Gamers should be interested too – it’s strikingly similar to The Last of Us in terms of its bleak locations, tone and atmosphere.
Aside from the acting, the cinematography from Simon Dennis adds a much needed touch of class. There’s a particularly chilling shot of zombies running, but we can only see them through an opening in a closed hangar. In a fairly bland world, I was still gripped.
It’s hard to nail down exactly what The Girl with All the Gifts is. Obviously there’s horror elements, but in many ways it’s not a horror at all. At its core it’s a coming of age drama mixed with a thriller – the zombies are more a plot point than genre defining.
To sum it up…
Easily the best zombie film since Shaun of the Dead, The Girl With All the Gifts is a diamond in the rough. There’s enough brutal violence to please genre fans, but it’s the performances and direction that put it above the rest.
Rating: PURE DYNAMITE!
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Author: Cameron Frew