The Girl with All the Gifts (15) – A Preview

The zombie movie has, over the last 30 years, moved from the scurrilous arena of the video nasty to (almost) mainstream entertainment, and for many the transition has neutered what was an impishly transgressive pleasure. So it’s something of a delight to discover a film that returns the undead to their shambling, full-blooded glory days.

In what is only his second feature, director Colm McCarthy has taken hold of an age old horror trope and breathed new life into it, presenting an intelligent, quirky, and thought-provoking take on the genre. While there are nods to George Romeo, the film is more obviously indebted to the viral zombies of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later or Bruno Mattei’s Zombie Creeping Flesh. Benefiting from a superb score from Cristobal Tapia de Veer and stunning location work in the industrial wastelands of the West Midlands, this is an exciting and original work. Notwithstanding great performances from Glenn Close and Paddy Considine, the film is all about the eponymous girl, brilliantly played by Sennia Nanua. She demands the audience’s sympathy in the intense bunker scenes of the opening act, and retains it long after an audacious plot twist subverts everything you think you’ve learnt.

But then this is a film that repeatedly confounds expectation. Mile Carey’s hugely inventive script quickly infects the narrative with a uniquely British dystopian vision, more usually associated with the work of John Wyndham or Nigel Kneale, so while there are great set pieces for genre fans to enjoy, the narrative is an altogether richer and more complex feast than we have any right to expect. Bon Appétit.

By David Vass