I was running through some of the streaming services I subscribe to looking for a good movie for a Saturday night. I came across this on Amazon Prime, and it piqued my interest. Seeing Glenn Close in this film gave it some credibility and, since it indicated that it had seen limited release in the US, it could go with the list of other 2017 movies. It was called The Girl With All the Gifts.
I never thought it would be as tremendous as it turned out to be.
The small British film took a new look at a topic that has been very overused for the last several years: zombies. I know, I was doubtful too. The idea of zombies has really been overplayed for the last several years, since The Walking Dead brought these slow movie creatures back into the forefront of pop culture. Yet, The Girl With All the Gifts did something that I did not think was possible. It took the genre of zombie movies and brought some originality and creativity to it, proving that with smart scripts and well developed character, any genre can show new life… if you forgive that pun.
We are introduced to young Melanie (Sennia Nanua) as a captive in what appears to be some military base. Buzzers indicated it was time for the young girl to get into the wheelchair and prepare to be strapped in– by gunpoint, by the military men on duty. Once strapped in safely, Melanie, along with a group of other children, are taken to a classroom to begin their lessons.
The entire situation was very mysterious and does a wonderful job of creating a mystery in the mind of the viewer. You do not understand what is going on, but the questions you have are extremely compelling. And Melanie is an exceptionally bright and likable child, despite the children being called “frickin’ abortions” by the military men. She seemed to have a special relationship with the teacher, Miss Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton).
And Melanie also seemed to be treated differently by the head doctor of the project, Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close). However, Dr. Caldwell and Miss Justineau had differing opinions on the state of being of Melanie.
When the base is overrun by the “Hungries,” Helen, Dr. Caldwell, Melanie, along with military men Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) and Kieran Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade) go on the run in an attempt to reach safety.
There is a seriously tense and frightening film, creating the tension through great use of tone and placing these characters that we have grown to connect with in some tremendously awkward and suspenseful situations. The music of the score behind the scenes is used brilliantly, tapping into the feeling of dread and uncertainty that the audience is feeling. There were some scenes that had me holding my breathe in anticipation.
The more we learn as the movie progresses, the more horrifying the setting becomes. When we find out where these special children come from and why they are different than the other “hungries,” well, it is the stuff nightmares are made of. This whole horror is juxtaposed with how much we love Melanie and how brave and caring and curious she is. She has a loving personality and a need to know how the world works.
The end of the film does not take an easy way out. In fact, it is almost as disturbing as the beginning of the film, and while it may not be the most satisfying of all possible endings, the conclusion makes perfect sense with how the story and the characters had progressed through.
The Girl With All the Gifts is an example of a limited release film that I may not have had a chance to see because it is not released near my home, and I am very grateful that it was available on Amazon for me to see it. It is a rare gem of horror that truly brings a genre back to life.