A fresh take on the genre delivers a fun story and a top-notch performance from Nanua.
“The Girl with All the Gifts” stars; Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine and is directed by Colm McCarthy. The story is set in a dystopian future where the human race has been all but made extinct by a fungal plague that for the most part turns people into zombies. After a military base is overrun, a scientist, teacher, and soldier, embark on a journey with a little girl who could have the cure for this disease. So, it’s kind of like “The Walking Dead” slapped together with “The Last of Us”.
I was highly intrigued by this movie when I saw the trailer and wondered what the story could do that would be new for the genre. To say we are saturated with zombie material would be an understatement, and trying to give a script in this setting a fresh vibe is growing more difficult. But despite my low-level zombie fatigue, I will say I really enjoyed this movie.
The story-line was unique, it did follow some common genre tropes. But it also wove together a fresh take on things with a plot and story progression that was effective in building intrigue, suspense and most of all, some interest in it. The first-act introduces us to these kids who are seemingly normal, but then we realize they’re not your common children by any means as they ignite into a frenzy at the smell of humans. I enjoyed how the first-act set the stage, built the foundation to the plot, and introduced the characters. Which enabled it to compel me.
Once the base is overrun the film begins to follow the common route. But with excellent performances and awesome post-apocalyptic settings that lured me in, I was still very engaged in the story. These aren’t your common slow walking zombies, they movie quickly, they are relentless, and reminded me very much of those from the “Train to Busan” another recent zombie movie I really enjoyed.
The performances in this film were very good, except for the performance of young Sennia Nanua. This girl was fantastic and made this film what it was. This story was so reliant on the character she portrayed, and it was a very demanded role. And without a doubt Nanua exceeds expectations with one of the best child performances I have seen in many years. She was perfect in this role, and she stole every scene in this one, with a performance some adult performers could not pull off.
Close, Arterton, and Considine were all very good, but in comparison to Nanua’s character of Melanie, they were simply serviceable. But that is not to say they were not great for their roles. Close was fun in this role playing a character that was out of her usual persona’s. Arterton, and Considine also provide the story with some solid characters as well.
I thought the cinematography was excellent. There were some nice long uncut shots that really provide some impact to their scenes and will have you up on edge. The washed-out color pallet also added a used feel to the film that really blended well with the settings, all of which were excellently selected. The back-drops, and set-designs were also very ominous, and fit the tone of the story perfectly.
On the downside, the story does falter late. The third-act was good, but it felt a little lazy, or not lazy, but like it took the easy way out. It was just a minor let-down from the story that led up to it. I really enjoyed the plot to this film, I liked the idea and construction of the virus the story was wrapped around, but it did feel lacking in detail and some substance. This to me was one of those films that properly builds tension as it progresses, but in the end, delivers a slightly stale climax.
Also, the musical score was a catch-22 to me. Early on it was very effective in adding an ominous tone to specific scenes, but as the movie progressed it did feel overused. It sounded like they used a Theremin and anyone that remembers the “Star Trek” theme will know a little goes a long way with that instrument. But later in the film it did get a little distracting.
Overall though I really enjoyed this movie. It felt ambitious in the story it wanted to tell, and showed the effort of not just wanting to give us another zombie movie. This was a very entertaining post-apocalyptic movie, it creates some tense moments and delivers a first-class performance from Sennia Nanua, that on its own is worth watching this movie for.
Time: 111 min
MPAA Rating: R (For disturbing violence/bloody images, and for language)