(UK - 2016; US release 2017)
Directed by Colm McCarthy. Written by Mike Carey. Cast: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Sennia Nanua, Anamaria Marinca, Fisayo Akinade, Anthony Welsh, Dominique Tipper. (R, 111 mins)
Based on the 2014 novel and scripted by its author M.R. Carey, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is one of the more thoughtful and intelligent offerings in the overcrowded zombie genre, approaching its subject from a unique perspective and benefiting from refreshingly unpredictable and very human character arcs. Set in an apocalyptic, near-future England, the film opens in a bunker at a military installation where restrained children are kept in maximum security cells before being taken to their lessons restrained in wheelchairs. The soldiers point guns at them at all times and don't engage in conversation, even though young Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is polite, articulate, and eager to please. Outside the gates of the base, hordes of zombies, or "hungries," linger about, ferociously seeking any kind of food and turned into mindless flesh-eaters by a deadly fungal virus that spread across the globe. The children being kept at the base are second generation "hungries" who transformed in utero and burrowed out of their mothers' wombs after devouring their insides. The virus is transmitted through bites and body fluids, but the second generation hungries--the children--still display the capacity for humanity. They're able to talk and learn and their feral side only comes out when they're hungry (they're fed live worms) and catch the scent of a human. The soldiers and the others running the base cover themselves in a blocker gel that stifles their scent, but that still doesn't provide enough security for Sgt. Parks (Paddy Considine) who simply regards them as inhuman hungries and doesn't care about their more human side seen by their teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton). Helen is in the minority with her views on attempting to treat the second generation hungries like children, especially when it comes to Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close), the research scientist working on a vaccine for the virus, which often involves killing and dissecting the young hungries. "They're children!" Helen argues, with Caldwell countering "They present as children!"