In the tradition of “28 Days Later” (British setting, high-speed zombies) comes this film — only some of the undead are kids. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
In the tradition of “28 Days Later” — British setting, high-speed zombies — comes “The Girl with All the Gifts.”
Only in this case, some of the zombies can think. Some of the zombies can talk. Some of the zombies are kids.
One kid in particular, named Melanie (Sennia Nanua, a real find), is bright, inquisitive, personable. And a sponge for learning.
Movie Review ★★★
‘The Girl with All the Gifts,’ with Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close. Directed by Colm McCarthy, from a screenplay by Mike Carey. 110 minutes. Rated R for disturbing violence/bloody images, and for language. Several theaters.
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At the start, strapped snugly in a wheelchair in a bleak classroom full of similarly restrained zom-kids, she eagerly engages with her empathetic teacher (Gemma Arterton). Clearly a very special — uh, one is tempted to say “person” — but as far as the not-undead people in the picture are concerned, she’s demon spawn. Unhuman. A mutant lab rat to be literally dissected by a forbidding research scientist played by Glenn Close in grim-reaper mode.
By cutting up the child and studying her brain, the scientist hopes to find a cure for the zombie contagion that apparently has reduced most of English society to mute ghouldom. She’s scientist as humanitarian, whose lifesaving ends justify her satanic means.
With that element and with scenes of the z-kids, Melanie included, falling into fits of teeth-chattering feeding frenzy, and others showing instant-zombification attacks (one bite and Pow! You’re a ghoul), Scottish director Colm McCarthy and British screenwriter Mike Carey have crafted an effective and surprisingly intelligent exercise in sustained horror.
The picture takes the form of a road trip after the military base where Melanie is confined is overrun by the running, living dead (boy, can those ghouls run). Melanie, her teacher and a squad of soldiers hit the road in an armored vehicle in hopes of finding refuge, somewhere, anywhere.
Plenty of flesh is devoured and blood is shed along the way. But what distinguishes “Girl” from most zombie pictures is Nanua’s appealing performance and a chilling scene toward the end where Close’s character appeals to the kid’s sense of altruism to agree to allow herself to be cut up for the greater good.
Scary stuff indeed.