28 Days Later meets Let Me In. The Girl with All the Gifts – review

The Girl with All the Gifts (2017) is an English horror-drama directed by the Scottish filmmaker Colm McCarthy and starring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close and Sennia Nanua in the leading role of Melanie.

The young Melanie is part of an experiment which consists of testing the various skills of a small group of new-generation ‘hungries’, meanwhile they are being used as human guinea pigs to discover a cure for a disease which has caused the humanity to come close to extinction.

At the same time, the remaining military forces are trying to survive to the hungries – zombie-like creatures – and protect the scientists who are working on the vaccine.

the-girl-with-all-the-gifts-film-set-in-birminghamAs a consequence, tons of ethical issues are raised, since the guinea pigs are semi-human children who prove themselves intelligent and capable of feelings. Especially Melanie, who creates a strong connection with Gemma Arterton character, Helen Justineau. Nevertheless, Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) and Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) are deaf to all the moral issues and, with different motivations, ruthlessly treat the kids as if they were monsters.

However, when a horde of zombies breaks into their stronghold, in the middle of the English countryside, the four main characters – and a couple of supporting soldiers – have to team up to survive.

locarno-festival_the_girl_with_all_the_gifts_publicity_still_h_2016Let’s talk about the pros of this movie. The characters are well-portrayed and developed throughout the runtime, their arc is explored in a compelling way and the two ‘villains’ – Caldwell and Parks – are driven by understandable motivations. In fact, every character is set into a grey area, which makes them interesting. Probably Sennia Nanua is the weakest part of the movie in regards to acting and sometimes she doesn’t keep up with the other stars, although I shouldn’t be too harsh to her, since she is only 14 years old young.

Also, the cinematography, the locations and the practical effects are well-crafted, even though they took a bit too much inspiration from 28 Days Later. Above all, the sequences filmed in the ‘abandoned London’ are placed into a successfully realised cinematic environment.

Yet, the fast-paced hungries are quite scary – even though zombie movies are little frightening by definition, at least to me – and their makeup is pretty convincing.

The problems, though, come towards the ending. In all fairness, the concept behind it, is provocative and self-conscious, which is an absolute merit. However, the execution turns out to be silly and unconvincing, especially because a couple of cathartic scenes are clearly made solely to complete the arcs of the characters.

All in all, The Girl with All the Gifts is an unconventional horror film, filled with the latest British cinema features – and this is a compliment – but it doesn’t reach the same level of 28 Days Later, which it clearly tried to imitate. And the ending, while being interesting due to the social commentary, is mostly disappointing and cheesy. Still worth checking out. Cheers!