- on Tuesday, 21 February 2017 09:16
- by Loron Hays
Restraining teenagers in the classroom? I always knew education would come to this; teenagers already feel adults would like nothing better than to see them in chains. Leave it to the British then to combine high IQs with the zombie plague and create one of the best horror films of the year.
The Girl with All the Gifts will forever be known as the horror film in which Glenn Close joins the battle against zombies. Forget how intelligent the film is as it imagines a military-controlled wasteland and its moral implications. Forget how it reimagines zombies, starting with a virus that infects children first. Forget the rest of the highly skilled cast, including the major discovery of young actress Sennia Nanua. The Girl with All the Gifts is a lot of things, but – of most importance – it will never overshadow Glenn Close in her first crusade against zombies.
The sheer delight in seeing one of America’s best actresses brain a zombie so hard it removes its skullcap is certainly one reason to see The Girl with All the Gifts; Close kicks ass again and again! The other reasons – as there are a number of them – might not be as visceral, but the mouth-snapping zombies at the heart of director Colm McCarthy’s second film wouldn’t have it any other way; oh, to be bludgeoned by a talent like her. Close has down many genre-minded flicks in the past. She's been a friend to horror fiends and comic book nerds, but this performance means something special to Horror Hounds. She "gets" us!
All kidding aside, The Girl with All the Gifts is the thinking man’s zombie film. In its first 30-minutes, the film does more with the genre than The Walking Dead did in its first two seasons. We have an explanation for the zombies: a fungus known as the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis and its path through the human body is indeed full of shocking twists and turns. (Just wait until the burning begins...)
We also have a whole lot of children in sweatsuits and chains being buckled and belted into wheelchairs before leaving their jail cells. They are rolled into the classroom by armed guards. Their teacher stands at the front of the room. There’s a reason for this treatment of the kids, of course, as they are all infected with the apocalypse-causing fungus. One sniff of your skin will get their reflexes going. The audible quick gnashing of their teeth as they click together, when they get a whiff of you, is damned eerie.
Mike Carey's adaptation of his own novel is both faithful and, rather surprisingly, economical in a sense that it boils down this tale to one of survival. The zombies in this flesh-eating flick are referred to as simply “Hungries” and they stand perfectly still until food is nearby; then they snap to attention and give chase. If scenes of humans trying to soundlessly navigate their way through a group of swaying zombies outside of strip malls and wooded areas aren’t your cup of tea, then stay away from this one. The tension is palpable and what Cary does with the still mutating virus is damn incredible. Zombies are just a stage in its evolution? Wow.
Our leading young star, Melanie (Nanua), wears a clear plastic visor on her face – think Hannibal Lecter – while she attempts to lead a team of survivors to safety. She feeds on cats when hungry and, while there is a sense of distrust among the team – which includes Melanie’s teacher, Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton), a gruff and to-the-point sergeant, Parks (Paddy Considine), and a scientist who thinks Melanie is the cure for the disease, Dr Caldwell (Close) – toward her, she sidesteps disaster with skill and intelligence and, believe it or not, a charm that, for a zombie, will win you over.
Suspicious young ones wanting more Hunger Games are going to steer clear of this one, which already elevates its impact in my mind. And, honestly, for the true believers of horror out there, this movie feels like a celluloid gift from above. It’s also not as far-fetched in its apocalyptic scenario of the end of days as one minght think and that, my friends, makes watching this flesh-eating flick all the more unsettling.
Full of a strong social commentary and moral dilemmas circling children and science, The Girl with All the Gifts is hands down one the best zombie films to come about in the last decade.
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violence/bloody images, and for language.
Runtime: 111 mins
Director: Colm McCarthy
Writer: Mike Carey
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Dominique Tipper, Glenn Close
Tagline: Our greatest threat is our only hope
Memorable Movie Quote: "Then why should it be us who die for you?"
Theatrical Distributor: Saban Films
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/girlwithallthegifts/
Release Date: February 24, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: The near future: humanity has been all but destroyed by a fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh eating "hungries". Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects. At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied and subjected to cruel experiments. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest.
When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton), Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine), Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close) and two other soldiers. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.
No details available.