Based on the novel of the same name by M. R. Carey, The Girl with All the Gifts offers a new approach to the already established zombie thrillers but seems to lack a sense of realism… as much as a dystopian world can offer.
The film tells the story of a world plagued by a fungal virus that turns humans into “hungries”, zombies that desire the flesh of those that are healthy and unaffected. However, the second generation of “hungries” are somewhat different. It is this difference that leads Dr Caudwell (played by Glenn Close) to believe that a cure can be formulated. Young Melanie (played by newcomer Sennia Nanua) becomes Caudwell’s last hope to develop a vaccine and to restore the human race.
Directed by Colm McCarthy, The Girl with All the Gifts can be greatly appreciated in terms of its aesthetics. It is extremely visually appeasing and alongside the resonant music score, a sombre atmosphere is created for the majority of the film.
Nanua’s performance was striking and hard-hitting for such a young actress and her work must be highly rated. The character of Melanie is the focal point for the audience’s connection to the film, so Nanua’s performance was crucial in order to make the audience believe the world that they were viewing. Her performance ensures that we sympathise with Melanie and support her on her journey. Her relationship with Ms Justineau (played by Gemma Arterton) pulls at your heartstrings, and the audience wants nothing more than to see Melanie live a normal and carefree life as a child. I believe that great opportunities lie ahead for Sennia Nanua.
Despite Nanua’s exceptional performance, not all performances were as plausible. A particular scene which shows Melanie go head to head with a clan of second generation children “hungries” is just one example of when the film loses its sense of seriousness, and in some ways becomes comedic. The low budget of the film could be blamed for the poor quality use of special effects in regards to creating believable zombie characteristics, but the acting cannot be commended. The scene which shows nothing more than playground fighting and a few slightly disturbing hisses every now and then is not chilling, nor is it believable. On the other hand, how frightening can a scene really be when all of the performers are children? The unity that is created between Melanie, Ms Justineau, Sgt. Eddie Parks (played by Paddy Considine) and Kieran Gallagher (played by Fisayo Akinade) is a believable one but the rest of the film lacks this belief.
The opening section of the film left me intrigued and immersed, but this connection was lost as the film progressed. I’m sat on the fence with The Girl and All the Gifts. Maybe you won’t be.