Director: Colm McCarthy
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Sennia Nanua, Glenn Close
Plot: In a dystopian future where most people have been either wiped out or turned into hungries i.e. rabid flesh eaters, a young girl named Melanie may be the key to save mankind.
Review: Much like Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, The Girl With All The Gifts is set in a world where most of humanity has been wiped out by a virus, and only a few remain trying to survive against the infected, here known as hungries.
The story begins at a military base, where a group of children are kept prisoner. These children are special because while they have the bloodthirsty instincts of the hungries, they are still able to maintain their sense of humanity and capable of communicating with others. They are kept under surveillance by military sergeant Parks, who considers them abominations, educated by Helen Justineau, the only one who treats them with respect, and experimented upon by Dr Caldwell, who is desperate to find a cure. One particular child, Melanie, stands out among them as she is bright, observant and cares about people around her. However, the army base is overrun by the hungries, and Parks, Caldwell, Helen and Melanie have to run and find shelter in the city.
Colm McCarthy's film may seem like a handsome nod to 28 Days Later at first, but once the film settles into the second half, it partly becomes a character study as we see Melanie learn more about the world around her. Since she had never left the base from the start, it is fascinating to see her react to the world around her, and how quickly she learns to adapt. To that end, young actress Sennia Nanua, impresses in her first feature debut. Her inexperience does show in a few scenes, but her overall performance is very solid.
Gemma Arterton puts in one of her best works as the kind Helen Justineau, who treats the children like actual people, as opposed to Glenn Close's Dr Caldwell, who looks at them like guinea pigs. Close is also strong here, portraying a desperate character who isn't necessarily all bad. The same can also be said about Paddy Considine's Sgt Parks, who demonstrates his mean side early on in the film, but somewhat justifies his motivations towards the end. Considine is also memorable in his role.
As far as the hungries go, there are a couple of stand out moments. The first involves the initial attack on the base, the second is when the group tries to silently walk through a static horde of hungries in the city, that may turn on them at any second. Credit goes out to the film's cinematography, set design and music team for a job well done.
The film could afford to lose about ten minutes or so, as it feels draggy at times. I also have a slight issue with the manner of demise of two characters at the end, as it seemed too easy. But it's a minor thing, and should not be a reason to not catch this film.
The Girl With All The Gifts is a solid entry into the zombie horror genre, and worth checking out. (7/10)