A new zombie movie, you say? Cool, I’ve seen them. From the UK? Right on. I remember enjoying 28 Days Later back when it came out. The military is studying the zombies to find a cure? Bring it on, I already own Day of the Dead. So there are zombie mutations and they go on the road with one? Hmm, ok maybe I’ll stop trying to pin The Girl with All the Gifts down and experience it for itself.
The film starts out in a military installation. There are a bunch of children that are locked up in isolated cells. There is something odd about this situation right off the bat. When the children are removed from their cells, they must be restrained to wheelchairs. Their heads, arms and ankles are restrained. Once they locked into their wheelchairs, soldiers wheel them into a classroom with the kind hearted Ms. Justineau.
We learn that the world has been overtaken by some fungal infection. This infection turns people into fast moving zombies, which are referred to as “hungries” by the military personnel. The fungal infection controls their behavior and they operate just to feed. However, they have found that there is something different about second-generation hungries. These are the children in the facility. Their parents were infected while they were still in the wombs. These second generation hungries exhibit a degree of control over their actions. They do still have a bloodlust of sorts when they are triggered by smell. However when they are fed and not instigated, they can behave more like the normal humans.
The Girl with All the Gifts focuses on one particular second-generation child, Melanie played by the unknown Sennia Nanua. She is an especially smart young hybrid girl with a love for stories. The story of Pandora’s box seems to especially intrigue her. Also, she has developed a bit of a conversational relationship with her teacher, Ms. Justineau. She has shown great aptitude for learning and mimicking behavior as well as deduction.
When the military is facility is overrun by hungries (disappointing level of security and protection here), several of the personnel flee for safety. With them they take Ms. Justineau and the lead scientist. Ms. Justineau gets them to bring Melanie along as she protected her and the lead scientist wants to use her to develop the cure. From here, they journey and struggle to survive while they head towards another military location where they can find safety to continue researching a cure. As they move towards their goal, they learn more about the infection and more about each other as they clash with both the hungries and humanity.
I’ve said before that the best thing about doing this (reviewing Blu-ray releases) is finding those surprise gems. Girl with All the Gifts is just what I was talking about. I didn’t much care for the resolution of the story and I was bothered by a few decisions here and there, but it is a great entry into the zombie genre. While not perfect, it hits a lot of notes. All the adult main actors deliver solid from performances, obviously headlined by Glenn Close as the lead scientist and Gemma Arterton as the teacher, Ms. Justineau. Nearly showing them up was Sienna Nanua as Melanie. She was rather powerful and adept at displaying emotion and loss with minor facial inflections.
So, wow. That was pretty good. The back of the release has a blurb from Radio Times lauding this as the best zombie film since 28 Days Later. I imagine they chose that one more out of setting and origin of the film being in London than any actual comparisons. Radio Times is a UK-based publication after all. I don’t know if I would go that far as there is some competition. However, I would go so far as to say it is definitely the best Zombie film I have watched since I caught Train to Busan. I know that isn’t saying much since I only watched that back in December. But let me assure you, The Girl with All the Gifts brings it.
This film probably isn’t what everyone expects from a zombie film. But I think that is a good thing. It has just a few moments of great zombie flesh-eating action, but that isn’t what it focuses on. It rather chooses to focus on the people and philosophical questions. And it does so with some real heart. And that is its true strength whether or not you agree with the movie’s conclusions. Despite its weaknesses, you’ll remember this one after watching it. And that is a good thing for a movie. Highly recommended.
Video Quality: 4/5
The Girl with All the Gifts looks quite nice in this release. However, you will find some fuzziness here and there that might be largely caused by lighting and intentional tinting for mood. Outside of that, the picture looks very good even in darker scenes. Overall, a very visually satisfying presentation.
Audio Quality: 4/5
Lionsgate provides this movie with a nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Dialog stays clear throughout the film and is well positioned. The sound effects sound true and appropriately powerful. Now, the score which is essential for the movie comes through clear and strong from beginning to end.
Special Features and Packaging: 2.5/5
There really shouldn’t be much expected here for a lesser known film like this, but there one to enjoy. Unwrapping the Secret World of The Girl with All the Gifts featurette is an enjoyable watch. This feature gives us a look at casting and production. It is worth a watch at least once.
Packaging is pretty normal here with a slipcover that matches the cover art.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a real find. The zombie genre apparently still holds potential for fresh spins and voices to be put out there. Along with Train to Busan, there are good zombie films out there that don’t feel like just the same thing again. The film looks pretty good and sounds better. The lone extra is better than a lot of extras I’ve watched recently. I definitely recommend at least seeing this film. But if it is a reasonable price, I say it is worth a blind buy. The Girl with All the Gifts certainly deserves to be watched.