Just when I thought there were no original ideas left in the zombie movie genre, The Girl with All the Gifts proves me wrong.
Michael Carey’s screenplay (adapting his own novel, which I confess I haven’t read), opens with mysterious ten year old Melanie (Sennia Nanua) in a cell in an underground bunker. She is surrounded by soldiers with their weapons trained on her, but doesn’t seem particularly upset. Indeed, she greets them warmly as they tie her to a wheelchair and generally treat her like Hannibal Lecter. She and a couple of dozen other children in orange uniforms are then escorted by these soldiers into a classroom where Helen (Gemma Arterton) asks them questions about the periodic table then reads them tales of Greek mythology. What on earth is going on?
To say too much more will spoil the film, suffice to say this provides some very clever variations on established zombie staples. Performances are all very good, especially from the wonderful Sennia Nanua, and supporting cast members Glenn Close and Paddy Considine. Director Colm McCarthy stages some terrific (and gruesome) zombie set pieces but also makes very, very good use of a limited budget and locations, especially a run-down London which is starting to be overgrown and reclaimed by nature.
The usual horror movie warnings apply for strong violence and bad language. Also, Christian viewers might want to take note that this story has a fairly bleak evolutionary atheist worldview, although obviously that doesn’t mean one cannot appreciate the fine storytelling, acting and directorial mechanics on display here.