Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Girl with all the Gifts (2016)

I came to this relatively low-budget British film without any great expectations but was pleasantly surprised by its unusual treatment of what has become a stereotyped genre. In simple terms, it's yet another zombie flick -- but quite unlike the usual run. For a start it doesn't follow the rules laid down by the recently departed George Romero -- these zombies are a breed apart. When we finally catch up with them well into the first half hour of the movie we discover that they are fast-moving, yet stand stock still until they get a whiff of fresh blood.

The film begins with our being introduced to a pack of wheelchair bound kiddies being trundled into their classroom for lessons with the fragrant Gemma Arterton (glammed down with little make-up). They seem harmless enough and we wonder why the attendant soldiers treat them so brutally. We soon learn that they are the second generation of the broadly infected 'hungries' and that they have literally eaten their way out of their pregnant mommies' tummies. Unlike the first infected generation they have the gift of speech, but are just as dangerous if let loose. Resident scientist Glenn Close is hoping to dissect them each in turn to develop an antidote.

One student stands out as being more 'human' and humane than her cohorts...little Melanie, played by newcomer Sennia Nanua. In Mike Carey's novel she's blond and blue-eyed and her teacher is black, but the races are reversed here. When their army base is overrun by the zombie hordes, the pair escape with Close and two soldiers. It is then a scramble to stay safe and nourished until they can be rescued. However it soon becomes clear that there is no longer a safe haven and that the infecting virus is on the verge of mutating into an airborne killer that will mark the end of mankind.

One hopes for a happy ending from Dr Close and the precocious child, but Melanie has different shocking ideas about the world's future. The adult actors including an initially hostile Paddy Considine are all fine but it is little Miss Nanua who steals the show and orchestrates the devastating finale.
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