Cast: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close and Sennia Nanua
Disclaimer: This summers ‘zombie’ blockbuster isn’t in fact about zombies.
The Girl with all the Gifts, based on the book of the same name, tells the story of a young girl named Melanie (newcomer Sennia Nanua). Melanie is an intelligent and inquisitive girl, who’s overwhelming adoration for her teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) may just be the catalyst to the end of the world as we know it.
In post-apocalyptic Britain lies a small army camp surrounded by ‘hungries’. Led by the ruthless Dr Caldwell (Glenn Close), and guarded by the equally as brutal Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine), the base is not only there to preserve, but also to experiment. When the base is overrun by hungries, our characters are forced to go on the run in attempt to find sanctuary in Beacon.
‘Hungries’ are unfortunate human beings who have been infected by the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. However, whilst most lose the ability to think and feel, the children being observed are ‘hybrids’ who’s cognitive abilities remain in tact. Believing this to be the route to a cure, Caroline Caldwell will stop at nothing to achieve this, dissecting children to her hearts content. Caldwell’s main target – Melanie.
I was lucky enough to go and watch the film early, thanks to a trusty red piece of plastic; my Cineworld Unlimited card. The great thing about having read the book was that I could anticipate what was coming next, which allowed me to not only take in the film, but also the audience reactions – a hilarity when the woman on your row jumps 3 foot in the air every time a hungry attacks! The film was definitely darker, and more of a gore-fest than I was expecting. I was surprised by the 15-rating that popped up before it started, but following the conclusion of the film it definitely lives up to its warnings of ‘strong bloody violence’.
Debutant Sennia Nanua portrays Melanie with such a sweet innocence one minute, and then a ferociousness you don’t see in most adults the next. As a first-time lead performance I hold my hands up to her. She stepped into a huge role character wise, and nailed each moment with conviction. I’m looking forward to seeing how her acting matures over time.
As Colm McCarthy’s first solo project, having previously directed for TV such as Doctor Who and Sherlock, this film hits all the right spots. Sure there are certain parts missing from the book (which was my first comment coming out of the screening), but no book-to-film adaptation has ever been spot on. Mike Carey, the author of the book, was entrusted to write the screenplay. In my eyes, if Mike is happy with taking scenes out of his own work, then I
“A film with equal parts horror, equal parts heart.” That is how I would sum up The Girl with all the Gifts.
The Girl with all the Gifts is in cinemas today.