Horrorible Review: “The Girl with All the Gifts”

Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!

This is also Zombie World Tour post!

The Girl with All the Gifts movie poster

The Girl with All the Gifts

A sweet and polite little girl in a prison cell is strapped to a wheelchair under the AK-augmented gaze of a steely-eyed soldier, then wheeled into a classroom where a dozen other children sit bound in their own wheelchairs. Before long we find out they’re not only smart, they’re zombies. So, yeah, the open packs a ton of information into the first five minutes and gives us a unique zombie conundrum: if you have a brilliant and loving little girl, do you pull out her brain to save the world?

The book had the same setup but took longer to get to it so I never made it past chapter nine, though I did feel at the time it was a clever idea and looked forward to seeing the film version. The story does work better visually and the movie has other clever moments, for instance a scene where the girl zombie, Melanie, finally gets outside the prison and is sitting in a grassy field. Getting there was traumatic, and she’s never been out before. Areas of the grass are pulled in and out of focus as a subtle metaphor for her confused life at that moment. Then she and the soldiers get to London and it’s beautifully rendered as ten years post-apocalypse.  I’ve never seen it done better in a horror film and thought, “Wow, that looks like Chernobyl!” Turns out they did base their “ruin porn” on how that city looks today.

Every bit of acting in the film was first rate, and if you ever wanted to see military barbie Glenn Close get stabby with a zombie, here’s your chance. Zombies in the film, called Hungries, are fast and vicious, and all dressed in the same kind of drab clothing, ala Walking Dead. Where before we had colorful fun with Romero’s blue faced zombies and zombie “types”, now the apocalypse robs the world of all color, from clothing to personality. In a huge nod to a big time zombie writer, there’s a long sequence featuring zombies that stand around staring at nothing until a stimulus spurs them into screaming bitey-ness. This creeped me out in Jonathan Maberry’s books, but not here.

The new age electric churchy zing of the music drew my attention too often, and not in a good way. I could not figure out what they were trying to accomplish with the music, and it annoyed me that I kept feeling a need to think about it. There were logic problems large and small that worried me almost as much as the music, and every time one of the British soldiers fired off a head shot with the gun stock wedged firmly in their armpit my eyes rolled just a little.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a high production movie with solid acting, production design and an unusual idea followed to its logical and ironic conclusion.  Ethical and moral dilemmas abound, culminating in a killer line near the end. It’s nowhere near the worse zombie film I’ve ever seen, but with a little tweaking could have been really great.

LINKS:

The Girl With All The Gifts – Official Trailer – Official Warner Bros. UK

 

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