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The Girl With All The Gifts review essay: “Deeply Unsettling”

by THN

This movie review is prepared by one of essay writers who has been working for SmartWritingService.com writing company since 2012.

Released in 2014, the novel on which this new British movie is based, gained international acclaim and ended up on some of the biggest bestsellers lists in the years since. Mike Carey, who wrote the source material, has adapted his own work for the screen, an uncompromising account of a fictional future dystopian world where all of humanity has been all but wiped out by a deadly fungal infection.

To say that The Girl With All The Gifts is a zombie film would radically undersell it somewhat. The film version follows a scientist, teacher and army sergeant who find themselves at odds with a young girl named Melanie, just one of many children that are infected with the deadly Ophiocordyceps unilateralis virus – a scientifically accurate disease which sees the host loose all of their mental capacity. The disease is transferred via blood or saliva, and leaves its victims with a lust for the blood of human beings. While the adult population are left looking like the zombie stereotyped image of ‘The Walking Dead’, it affects the young entirely differently – particularly the girl with all the gifts of the title, Melanie, superbly played by the wonderful Sennia Nanua.

Melanie has taken a particular shine to her teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton), though daily run-ins with on-site scientist Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close), who is also the boss of all of the teachers, is severely affecting her. Then there’s Paddy Considine’s elite barracks sergeant Eddie Parks, whose distinct lack of respect for the young inhabitants of the mysterious army blockade is reflected in his unrelenting uncompromising style of discipline towards them.

When the barracks are compromised a short way into the film, a small group of survivors, made up of Melanie, Caldwell, Justineau, Parks and a couple of loyal soldiers, battle their way out of the compound into the largely deserted, though very dangerous, infested English countryside. It all then becomes a huge battle for survival in one of the best, most original British zombie genre movies since 28 Days Later.

We mention 28 Days Later, not just because its director Danny Boyle is at the forefront of our minds with his latest film T2 Trainspotting arriving in cinemas this week, but because The Girl With All The Gifts has a lot of similarities with it. As well as its originality, The Girl With All The Gifts also features a very different type of zombie too. Named ‘Hungries’ in this film, the ‘zombies’, like in 28 Days Later, can run. Fast. These are not your Walking Dead type undead – these can probably run faster than you and are relentless in terms of how hard they will come at their victims. Genuinely scary, intense stuff.

The Girl With All The Gifts is expertly crafted, from its wonderful direction from Colm McCarthy (whose work you may have seen on Peaky Blinders, Spooks or Sherlock), to its hugely impressive and ambitious production design by Kristian Milsted, who also worked on Monsters: Dark Continent – which also shares similar themes in terms of its setting. Every character is brilliantly acted, from Arterton’s sympathetic teacher Justineau to Paddy Considine’s hardened, though deeply troubled and wary military sergeant Parks. Then there’s Glenn Close who presence is as mesmerising as it is absolutely frightening. Her motivations are clear throughout, but her sinister opening scenes set the scene for one of her best performances in many years. It is however relative newcomer Sennia Nanua who steals the show with her lead portrayal of Melanie – a multi-layered character brought to the screen with complete rawness and bravado. One of the best young performance of the year, and a talent to keep your eye on in the near future.

The Girl With All The Gifts is a near-flawless movie. Ambitious in scale and spot-on its execution, the film will delight, engross and scare you to death all of the way through. It is deeply unsettling, but a truly wonderful adaptation of some really rather intense source material that should shine as one of the great British genre pieces of the past decade.

The Girl With All The Gifts is on Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray now.

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