I was a huge fan of the book that this movie was adapted from as written by MR Carey, aka Mike Carey, writer of such comic books as The Unwritten and Lucifer. I was thrilled to know that it was being turned into a movie despite the fact that I almost always dislike what Hollywood winds up doing with the property (which wasn’t the case here… we’ll come back to this in a moment).
The Girl With All The Gifts is a zombie tale that reinvented the genre for me. It’s still undeniably a zombie film but the film is based in science and backs up how the apocalypse could plausibly happen. This is definitely brushed over in the film but they do a great job of explaining it in the novel and it’s terrifying. Despite this, the film still works exceptionally well in making you believe that there’s something else at work causing the epidemic, which they explain casually as a fungus.
The story follows a small group of survivors from a military operation that’s studying the humans turned “hungries” as they’re called. The scientists are tasked with finding a cure for what’s happening and within the organization, there’s also teachers trying to discover why some children, found on scouting missions, are clearly infected but have retained much of their intelligence and humanity.
After the base is overrun with the creatures, the small remaining group heads out to find sanctuary elsewhere and to start anew.
While that sounds like the plot of almost every zombie movie out there, I promise you that this is different in every way. The focus of the film is a ping girl named Melanie and her journey from being an observed subject to becoming something much more. The film is dark and goes all the places that conventionally would be steered away from. There’s violence, gore, and a lot of uncomfortable subject matter but it all works perfectly within the story and serves as an amazing way to share a tale that we haven’t seen before within the genre.
The young girl playing Melanie (Sennia Nanua) does an amazing job with her role and I would say she even exceeded all of my expectations. There was some controversy surrounding her casting as the prominent first images were of her, a young woman of colour, wearing a sort of Hannibal Lecter-esque mask to prevent her from biting anyone around her. With the Black Lives Matter protests at their peak during production, you can understand why people would be upset by the imagery. The beloved saviour figure (played by Gemma Arterton), was meant to a woman of colour and instead portrayed by a white woman so again, you can understand the problematic nature behind this.
That being said, I think the casting ended up being wonderful and I see a bright future in film for Nanua, if that’s what she continues to pursue in her adult life.
As mentioned, I very often have problems with movie adaptations of the books I enjoy. I don’t find hem as satisfying and I find that they gloss over things that I felt were important within the source material. Carey not only penned the novel but took on the screenplay on his own and the end product was something that I didn’t question once throughout my watch of the film. Everything flowed wonderfully and Carey did a flawless job of adding and taking away what would work or not work on the big screen.
Watch this movie! It’s not a fast-paced film because the focus is on the quality of the content within. There is still action and a lot of tense moments that genuinely put you on the edge of your seat but what you’re in for with this film is an excellent story told by wonderful creatives. The entire team on board here, director, writer, actors and actresses, felt as though they were all on the same page for the vision of what this film wanted to be and it’s really great.
Don’t miss this film. Whether you’re a fan of the zombie genre or not, you can appreciate this film for exactly what it is: a fantastically told story.
The Girl With All The Gifts will be in theatres at the end of the month on January 26, 2017.