The Girl with All the Gifts (Movie Review)

Colm McCarthy breathes new life into the lumbering zombie genre.

Other than Train to Busan and the early season of The Walking Dead, I’m not a fan of the mindless monsters. However, with stellar casting, detail-oriented world building, and grounded, believable characters, The Girl with All the Gifts breathes new life into the “undead.”

The virus that destroyed the world has mutated.

A second generation of “hungries” is mankind’s only hope of survival. This hybrid zombie presents itself in the form of thinking children, who still crave living flesh. These children, by all appearances, are normal. The can speak intelligently. They are not disease-ridden and rotting from death. However, if an authority fails to wear a scent-masking lotion, these children flip into flesh-ravenous monsters.

The Girl with All the Gifts follows one of the second-generation children.

Melanie is a sweet, intelligent, and thoughtful girl. Her thoughtfulness lands her in an experimentation room. The doctor (played by Glenn Close) intends to remove Melanie’s brain and spinal column, in order to develop a vaccine against the virus. As she anesthetizes Melanie, a hoard of zombie’s overrun the military base.

A motley group embarks on a journey of survival.

Sergeant Eddie Parks, Doctor Caldwell, Melanie, and her teacher escape the mass breach. They band together in an effort to find another sanctuary city and other living people who don’t eat flesh. Melanie, the second-generation zombie, proves useful in their survival. She also becomes humanized in the eyes of her traveling companions. That complicates everything.

The Girl with All the Gifts provides a unique and terrifying glimpse into the desperation of survival.

McCarthy’s Girl with All the Gifts is more than a coming to age story about responsibility and adulthood. It portrays the dangers of conformity. The authority figures are scientists, teachers, and officers. They are forcing the children to learn what they teach. They are discovering a cure so that mankind can remain as is. And the movie begs us to answer the question, what does it mean to be human?

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