Friday, January 20, 2017
The Girl With All The Gifts (2017)
DIRECTOR: Colm McCarthy
WRITER: Mike Carey
Humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious fungal disease. Anyone that is afflicted with the infection is robbed of all free will and turn into flesh-eating zombies known as 'hungries'. A group of soldiers, doctors, and a teacher who are living on an army base believe that the infected children that they have taken in for scientific research may be humanity's last hope. The children are all infected with the disease and crave flesh but are able to think and feel which makes the rest believe that they may have found the cure for this disease.
When I first got word of The Girl With All The Gifts, I was still living in London at the time. I pride myself on being pretty up to date with all my horror movie news. But I heard about this movie from a friend that's not even that big on horror films. He had seen the trailer and said how amazing the film looked and that we should all go and see it as a group. I was happy and excited. Being the busy, young professionals we were, we never ended up going to see it.
I eventually got to see the trailer for the film and was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. It looked like it had a lot of similar themes to several other zombie films but also added a couple of neat little twists to the zombie mythology and lore. I didn't end up getting to see The Girl With All The Gifts until roughly six months later when I had to, unfortunately, move back to my homeland of Sydney, Australia. It's been a very long time coming, but I think, for the most part, it was worth the wait. I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it's still an intense and well-made zombie film.
Going into this movie, I had no idea that the movie was based on a novel. So I can't compare the film adaptation to the book in this instance. As the studio logos begin to roll, we hear a young girl counting up to an unknown number. There is so much panic in her voice. Then this extremely unnerving score starts to play as she is counting up. It's already intense without even showing you a single frame of the film. We've only seen the studio who has financed it, and I was already taken aback by the movie. I was very excited at this point.
Once it's revealed what this counting is, the movie goes straight into the army base, and we are introduced to all our major players. We see a somewhat villainous Glenn Close who is quite menacing early on. Gemma Arterton as these children's teacher is kind and shows them compassion. The army men and women are tough and take no shit. We get enough character development before all hell breaks loose. The kind of carnage that takes place in this movie felt very similar to that of 28 Days Later which was a big plus for me.
The movie has plenty of entertaining set-pieces. The attack on the army base from the hungries is a masterclass piece of tension. A scene involving a character facing away from the glass as you see a dozen hungries running towards it and the metal shutters are coming down is just so pulse-pounding. If you've always thought that Glenn Close was badass, you'll love her in this film. A scene with a zombie and a fire-extinguisher is standout. She is doing her best Sarah Connor impression in the early scenes of the film.
We also have a really enjoyable and incredibly intense sequence involving a two-level shopping complex and a pram that is one of the most intense scenes that I've seen in a zombie film since Train To Busan. The Girl With All The Gifts really doesn't let up in the first and second acts of the story. I was on the edge of my chair for a good hour and fifteen minutes or so of this movie. I didn't know what to expect when it came to delivering the thrills, and this movie was solid. I can't fault how well the attack scenes are set up in the film.
I also wasn't expecting this movie to be all that gory and violent, but it delivers on that front. We have so many zombies being shot in the face and head that when it started happening, it comes pretty much out of nowhere and the movie feels like it takes a shot of adrenalin and the ante is ramped up. This movie doesn't hold back when it comes to children being in danger either. There are a few incredibly nasty moments and one that involves a rat. While a lot of the gore seems to be done on a computer and not practical, this is the only negative I can say about the carnage.
The acting in the film is top-notch. We have the brilliant Glenn Close who can play a villain but still make her likable which she does very well in this film. What can I say about Gemma Arterton as Ms. Justineau? Both her and Sennia Nanua are the heart of this movie. Their relationship from the very beginning is one that I rooted for, and we have Paddy Considine who can do no wrong for me. The man is just such a force on screen. He is also a standout even if the film isn't that great. Hating the guy is hard. How Gemma and Paddy aren't in more things is beyond me.
Lastly, the most significant issue that I had with the film is that in the third act, the movie sort of turns into this weird Lord Of The Flies sort of film. We have a group of savage children who suddenly become the main threat in the movie, and it's entirely left-field, and it kills the entire vibe of the film. This is probably explained more in the book, though. The movie also ends on a note that takes us back to the early scenes in the film that feels like it's trying to be hopeful but it made me feel really sorry for Ms. Justineau. It's a very bleak outlook for this character who I grew to love over the course of the film.
DEATH TOLL: 57 (Estimated)
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Lots of zombies are shot in the face, head, and bodies.
- Lots of bloody zombie bites.
- Zombies are run over by an army vehicle.
- A dead baby is seen being eaten by rats.
- A cat is eaten.
- A pigeon is eaten.
- A zombie licks blood off the floor.
- Zombie aftermath of faces being blown off.
- A zombie is seen chewing its own arm off.
- A zombie is stabbed in the head with a shard of glass.
- A zombie is scalped by a fire extinguisher.
- People are eaten by child zombies.
- A child zombie is bashed to death with a baseball bat.
With the onslaught of Zombie films, I can safely say that The Girl With All The Gifts is more of a positive experience than a negative one. The film is gorgeous to watch, the set-pieces are intense, the movie is bloody and violent, and the acting is fantastic by the entire cast. The only real issues that I had with the film is the third act of the film and some overuse of CGI gore. Other than that, you shouldn't be disappointed with this entry in the zombie catalogue. Worth a watch or two and in time may be seen as a somewhat classic.