Tuesday, 27 September 2016


A zombie apocalypse movie which uses its premise not so much as a platform on which to build shocks and scares, but a sage dissection of what it means to be human, both in how it defines us and in how we choose to express our humanity. Indeed, The Girl with All the Gifts is sage enough to acknowledge that these are concerns of such enormity that it can only pass comment upon them, submit a few pithy but provocative points to this debate, and thus earn the right to exploit the debate for its own benefit. Even when succumbing, as it regularly does, to the banal standards of the zombie movie template, Colm McCarthy's film finds innovative ways of staging these sequences and of using them to enrich its theoretical examination and to send the plot off in a mildly unexpected direction. Mike Carey's adaptation of his novel carries a vaguely nihilistic streak in its depiction of the frustrating, unrelenting futility of efforts to save ourselves, and our definition of humanity; he proposes that the only escape route is through love, which affords The Girl with All the Gifts a welcome warmth, though a trait that actually ends up stymying the film's potency. McCarthy's understated visual design is no doubt the product of budget restraints, but it allows for a greater focus on emotional and philosophical content, a more rewarding alternative. This approach itself allows the chance for the film's actors to shine, and they do - Glenn Close, in particular, hasn't been given the opportunity to go this deep on film for years, and, if for nothing else, The Girl with All the Gifts will forever hold a place in my heart for that fact alone.