A scientist and a teacher living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.
Tag Line: Our greatest threat is our only hope
Release Date: September 23, 2016 | Rating: 4 out of 5
The Girl With All The Gifts Review
“If I had a box full of all the evils in the world, I’d stick you inside it.”
Amidst a military, bunker-like facility, we follow a girl called Melanie (Sennia Nanua). We are introduced to her in a cell. She is only transported back and forth in a chair which encompasses her, including her head which is strapped. We’re posed with a question: “Why?” We soon find out. As Melanie recites a story inspired by mythology, she is touched for the first time by her teacher (Gemma Arterton). The teacher recites literature and poetry to a class filled with children strapped to the same chairs, but Melanie is her favourite. As she is touched, a soldier interrupts them, spits on his arm and holds it towards another child. With simplistic and effective sound, we hear jaws crunch. A terrifying transformation happens. Not through special effects, but within the cells of every child in that room but Melanie. They are ravenous for flesh.
‘The Girl With All The Gifts’, is the sort of film I would have been obsessed with as a child. To see a child like me, on film defying odds would have been monumental. Putting aside my own nostalgic need for childhood heroes, I’m in love with the way the film moves. The framing is urgent, but stylistic when it needs to be. It fills frames with animalistic children and grotty, industrial walls. It uses light to soak everything in grunge and decay. This works to make way for the first trip up to ground level, and gives your senses a jolt when you’re met with the light of the army base.
The film has Melanie as the source of calmness and efficiency for the majority of its running time, being able to negotiate the disease inside of her with finesse. Although there’s still a need for her to feed and she succumbs to some of the symptoms, she has a control over it that many others don’t. She is a character of substance, supported by Gemma Arterton’s simplistic sympathy and Glenn Close’s cold and clinical presence. She is a fully-rounded and realised character that is forced into an unfamiliar situation, making it all the more interesting. It makes an interesting contrast to her previous captivity, the captivity under military watch in the open air, and the freedom she now faces in a zombie-riddled world. Although it plays with a historic scenario (black people as test subjects) within the casting, and a case for white saviourism, this is turned on its head and the multi-dimensional script gives us a role-model and a hero in the face of apocalyptic disaster.
We can dig into the human need for normalcy in extreme situations and the depths of human curiosity for universal knowledge. The film uses both Schrodinger’s Cat and Pandora’s Box to awaken a philosophical questioning in us that is rare with apocalyptic zombie films. A must watch!
Check out our review of the source novel here