After missing Colm McCarthy's adaptation of Mike Carey's book The Girl with All the Gifts at TIFF last year, I made sure to catch it during its recent run at The Royal.
During a zombie apocalypse, the residents of an underground bunker race against time to find a cure using a group of infected children that still somehow possess their humanity.
I thought this film was pretty solid. I feel like the mainstream appropriation of the zombie genre has caused it to get a bit stale (even I've stopped keeping up with The Walking Dead at this point), but I thought this was a really interesting take on it. Maybe it is not a coincidental that Girl with All the Gifts is a UK production, as I recall another Brit coming along about fifteen years ago with 28 Days Later and giving the zombie genre a much needed shot in the arm.
Much like the antagonists in Naughty Dog's 2013 video game The Last of Us, the pathogen in Girl was a fungal infection that grew outward from the victim's body, which made for some really unique designs that we're not used to seeing on the silver screen. Of course, this was not the only thing this movie shared with The Last of Us, as also present were the aesthetic of the overgrown urban landscapes and the theme of protecting a child from the dangers of the waging apocalypse.
The Last of Us also had said children possessing a partial immunity that others were attempting to exploit. To be fair though, it was presented much differently here. I enjoyed the direction that The Girl with All the Gifts went in, as I had previously assumed the majority, if not all, took place in Day of the Dead fashion, when in fact that only comprised the first act of the film.
I thought the performances really elevated the film, as well. Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close were both terrific as characters at odds due to their conflicting theologies and Paddy Considine was solid as always as their gruff team leader. Most impressive though was the breakout performance of Sennia Nanua as the title character, Melanie. She brought a dual innocence and intelligence to the character that I thought gave the story real substance.
|Sennia Nanua as Melanie in The Girl with All the Gifts.|
Yeah, I dug The Girl with All the Gifts and am glad to see there are still new avenues to be taken by this flea-bitten subgenre.