I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t love zombie films. There’s just something about them, no matter how good or bad, that draws me to the them like a moth to a flame. The Walking Dead has played a major part in bringing zombies back into fashion and it’s one of my favourite shows of all time.
There have been so many zombie films over the years but there are only a select few that I’ve been able to label as anything higher than good. 28 Days Later is certainly one of them, as is Colm McCarthy’s The Girl With All the Gifts. As with The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later, The Girl With All the Gifts is a film that gives you the vital ingredient for a good zombie film; characters you care about.
Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is a young girl with a very special attribute; one that could lead to the creation of a vaccine against a virus that has wiped out the majority of the population. Alongside Sgt. Parks (Paddy Considine), Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) and Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close), Melanie embarks on dangerous journey of survival that could lead to the survival of the human race.
I mentioned that the film has the vital ingredient for a good zombie film in characters you care about and it’s one of the main reasons I loved The Girl With All the Gifts. Mike Carey, who also wrote the novel this has been adapted from, has written characters who do more than just run away and make stupid decisions when being chased by a horde of zombies, or “hungries” as they’re labelled in this film.
It’s great to see a couple of the characters have some form of arc, Considine’s Sgt. Parks having my favourite and the most compelling of the film. All of the characters are so different and it makes for a much more interesting experience seeing how their behaviour towards each other changes throughout.
Colm McCarthy tells this story with such a delicacy but gets down to the gritty stuff when necessary very well, and you really do feel the transition, one stand out moment being a disturbing sequence set in an abandoned newsagents. Aided by some beautiful cinematography from Simon Dennis and intricate production design from Kristian Milsted, The Girl With All the Gifts is one of the most captivating films you’ll see all year. Cristobal Tapia de Veer‘s score adds such a haunting element to the film as well.
Coming to the performances, The Girl With All the Gifts possesses a number of experienced actors such as Paddy Considine and Glenn Close, who only help the film excel above other zombie films as they’re good actors, an ingredient usually missing from these films. Along with Gemma Arterton, they are both very good in their roles however, the real star of the film, and rightly so, is Sennia Nanua as Melanie, the twelve year old showcasing a performance of complete innocence and maturity beyond her years. I expect we will be seeing a lot more from Nanua in the future.
I fully expect the final scene to become a very polarising one but I thought it suited the film to a tee. It certainly didn’t end the way I was expecting and that’s what makes it a such a breath of fresh air for me. The Girl With All the Gifts is one of the must see films of the year and I can’t wait to see it again and again.