The zombie trend seems unkillable. Every time some new take on the genre comes up that I think will put the bullet in its head, another one pops up that breathes fresh life into the undead. "The Girl With All The Gifts" is a British, somewhat-indie take on the zombie trope, that infuses a few new ideas without straying too far.

The movie opens in some sort of prison, concrete walls and steel doors and shackles, but all the prisoners are children. It's nearly twenty minutes into the movie before you even realize there are zombies outside, and after those tense twenty minutes building tension, things explode quickly. The military base where the prison is located is overrun, leaving only a few survivors, including a special young girl. As the survivors try to make it to the next safe zone, each character becomes more clear; a typical Army guy, a compassionate teacher, and a manipulative doctor determined to find a cure.

This movie clearly takes a lot from "28 Days Later", which I still think is a pretty solid chapter in the zombie movie story. The zombies in both movies aren't the Romero-style undead: in "28 Days Later" they're infected by a virus, in "The Girl With All The Gifts", it's a fungus that takes hold of the brain. Both the virus and the fungus are passed through bodily fluids like traditional zombies, but in both cases, the undead aren't slow and stumbling - they can run fast.

The acting had its up and downs. I've enjoyed Gemma Arterton in the past, and she did a good job here, including dropping some weight (specifically in her face) to bring some realness to a dystopian future where food isn't always available. I had only seen Paddy Considine in comedic roles, but he put in a solid effort as the military leader. I don't think I would have ever expected Glenn Close to appear in an action-oriented zombie movie, but she brings a certain strength to the doctor, a stoicism and determination in the face of chaos. Sennia Nanua makes her debut as the eponymous "girl", and while she brings a great innocence to the role, she walks the line into annoying precociousness, and I also had a bit of a hard time buying it when it comes time for her to turn ferocious.

I was pleased by the ending, right up until one extra scene ruined it for me. It wasn't a post-or-mid-credits scene, it's just that there was a a powerful ending, a fade to black, and I felt ready for the credits to roll. Instead, I got what was borderline comic relief, not in line with the previous hundred minutes, what seemed to be a tacked-on audience assuager.


On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "The Girl With All The Gifts" gets a 6 out of 10.




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