Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Girl with all the Gifts (5 Stars)

I heard about this film a few months ago, while I was still living in England. "A film being made in Birmingham". That always excites me. When films are made in England they're either set in London or in the countryside, depending on whether or not it's an urban film. Birmingham isn't a popular setting for films, so I automatically watch any films made in Birmingham, whatever they're about. I was overjoyed to find out that the film would be included in Stuttgart's horror film festival. I didn't realise until yesterday that the film stars Gemma Arterton. That's another reason to watch it. She's probably my favourite actress now that Leelee Sobieski has retired from acting.

It's a zombie film. I don't like zombie films, but "The Girl with all the Gifts" is different. It doesn't follow the usual formula of zombie films. It's a zombie film with heart and emotion. It also explores new ground, experimenting with ideas not used in earlier zombie films.

In the near future an epidemic has broken out, turning over 99% of the world's population into zombies. As in all other zombie films they are ugly flesh eaters who turn their victims into zombies by biting them, but these zombies don't lumber around slowly, they run fast to attack their prey. The survivors live in military enclaves, because only soldiers are able to protect the population.

The story begins in a heavily fortified military base in central England. Scientific studies are in progress. It's been discovered that second generation zombies, children born to zombie mothers, have normal human intelligence, even though they are flesh eaters. A group of 20 children is being held as prisoners, but they're being educated by school teachers in the base. It's thought that the children's DNA holds the secret to create a vaccine to cure zombies.

One girl, Melanie, stands out above all the others. She is more intelligent, polite and articulate than all the other children. The scientists think that she's the most promising candidate for making the vaccine. She is also the favourite pupil of one of the teachers, Helen Justineau.

The base is breached in a mass attack by zombies and has to be evacuated. Helen takes Melanie with her, despite protests by the soldiers. In the fight for survival on the outside Melanie is the key figure. She's a zombie, but she fights on the side of the humans.

I was very fortunate to be able to see this film. It won't be released to the cinemas until the end of September. It was a special screening at the Stuttgart horror film festival.

The acting was brilliant by all of the main cast. Most of all I was impressed by Sennia Nanua, who plays Melanie. She was only 12 when she made the film, but she shows talent way beyond her years.

As far as Birmingham goes, I'm sorry to say that I didn't recognise the city. Maybe when it hits the cinemas my Birmingham friends can tell me if they see anything they know.


  1. I appreciate this being popular, like the book. But it just left me cold. Seemed way too long for the story that was being told. The ending
    was pretty good. I probably don't like this genre much though, and Michael Jackson's Thriller music video is the gold standard in its own way.

    1. You mean you don't like the zombie genre? Neither do I, but I find "Girl with all the gifts" very untypical for zombie films.


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