Monday, January 1, 2018

Movie #441: The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl With All the Gifts is a recent horror/drama based on a novel by Mike Carey, starring Sennia Nanua, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Gemma Arterton, Fisayo Akinade, and Anthony Welsh. It's a zombie movie, but it goes some places that most zombie movies don't.

The zombies in this story are controlled by a fungal infection, and are referred to as "hungries." They basically stay in one place, gently swaying, until they smell food (and they'll eat basically whatever meat they can catch), and then they run at it full-tilt. In a government facility in England, though, a class of children is being taught (in part) by a woman named Helen Justineau (Arterton). Said class includes a very bright young girl named Melanie (Nanua). All of these children are hungries, but are capable of thought and language. Dr. Caldwell (Close) is working on finding a cure or a vaccine based on their relationship with the fungus.

But then it all goes south; hungries overrun the compound, Melanie escapes with Justineau, Caldwell, a couple of soldiers (Akinade and Welsh), and Sergeant Parks (Considine). They flee toward London, looking for a way to find food and stay off the hungries' radar, until finally they learn the truth - the next stage in the fungus' evolution is airborne spores that will infect anyone who breathes them, effectively ending the human race. Caldwell figures she can still cure it, but Melanie, upon learning that she's really alive and not just mimicking life, sets this event in motion, figuring that it's not fair for humanity to live if it means her people should die out. (Or as she puts it to Parks, "It's not ending. It's just not yours anymore.")

So as zombie movies go, it's both bleak (humanity ends), chilling (Justineau survives, but trapped in a mobile lab to protect her from the spores and giving lessons to zombie children forever), and hopeful (Melanie is right - she absolutely has the right to survive as much as humans do).

Having read the book (which almost never happens), I can say too that it's a pretty faithful adaptation, and while you miss some context for why certain things happen, I don't think anything of crucial importance got cut out. It's creepy, gory in places, and the scenery and production design are beautiful in a Life After People sort of way.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch Value: Medium, I think

Next up: The Last Witchhunter