|Glenn Close is a mad scientist. Typecasting.|
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
Dir. Colm McCarthy
Scr. M. R. Carey
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Sennia Nanua
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Twelve-year-old Melanie (Sennia Nanua) wakes up in a dank cell, hops out of bed and places herself into a wheelchair. The door opens. Two heavily-armed soldiers train their guns upon her as she's muzzled and strapped securely - treated like a kind of pre-teen Hannibal Lecter and wheeled into a room full of other similarly-secured children.
It's time for school.
Melanie's high I.Q. and vivid imagination is more than enough to earn her the distinction of being teacher's pet to instructor Helen Justineau (babe-o-licious Gemma Arterton). The crusty head of security Sgt. Eddie Parks (still handsome and oddly rugged Paddy Considine) treats the child like a psycho monster and has no use for her. Mad scientist Dr. Caroline Caldwell (a very creepy - naturally - Glenn Close) has been performing a whole whack of grotesque experiments upon the kiddies, but has some very special plans for this child - a girl "with all the gifts".
It's no surprise that Melanie's favourite story is "Pandora's Box" since she clearly holds much in the way of "evil" that she wants to release in order to cling to the "hope" she most definitely can provide to the world.
There is, you see, a fungus. It has spread like wildfire and turned most of the world into "hungries" (as they're referred to by the mean-ass Sarge).
And what precisely are they hungry for?
Human flesh, of course.
|She's perfectly normal, though she wants to eat people.|
Melanie is a "hungry", but she's definitely not like the others and Doc Caldwell has her eye on the child to provide an eventual cure/antidote.
Every single time I hear about and/or see a new movie with zombies (or any crazed undead afflicted with a "virus/disease/fungus"), my heart begins to sink and my eyes start to glaze over, but when I see something like The Girl With All The Gifts I get all hap-hap-hap-hap-happy again. Yes, there's life left in old chestnuts and Colm McCarthy's film of writer M.R. Carey's screenplay (based upon his book) is proof positive of this.
As is my wont, I knew nothing about the movie before seeing it, and I'm especially grateful to have entered into the film's world in total ignorance. Once hell breaks loose, and oh, it does with horrifying abandon, we're plunged into a living Hell of ravenous, bloodthirsty zombies.
|She's not interested in eating anyone at the moment.|
The military base falls to thousands of carnivorous creatures and our protagonists - child, teacher, doctor and soldier - begin begin a terrifying danger-fraught odyssey across a topsy-turvy blood-soaked United Kingdom. Director McCarthy handles the proceedings with all the skill and style required to keep us on the edge of our seats. There's one sequence in particular where the "humans" must wend their way through hundreds of "sleeping" zombies which not only provided me with all the necessary bowel gurgles I enjoy during horror pictures, but also inspired the unloading of some heavy matter. (If you see the movie in public, please wear adult diapers.)
This is one scary-ass movie.
That the film eventually creeps into been-there-done-that territory during its final third is a wee bit disappointing, but the picture ultimately delivers on plenty of shocks, chills and thrills and yes, manages to infuse its occasional stock moments with the kind of humanity that finally raises things well beyond the "stock"-in-trade of such items.
An interesting side note is that half of the film's £4 million budget came from the BFI Film Fund (one of their largest investments - ever) and Creative England (the largest investment it's ever made). These are the kind of government-infused cultural initiatives I can support wholeheartedly. I'm assuming/hoping the bureaucrats left the filmmakers alone to make the movie they wanted to make. As a Canadian, I can sincerely hope we see similar government-funded cultural support from Telefilm and its ilk.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ Three-and-a-Half Stars
The Girl With All The Gifts premiered at the TIFF 2016 Midnight Madness series. It is a Saban Films release and is playing theatrically at The Royal Cinema in Toronto on the following dates:
2017-03-18 4:30 PM
2017-03-18 9:00 PM
2017-03-20 9:00 PM
2017-03-21 9:00 PM
2017-03-22 9:00 PM