The Girl With All the Gifts, the latest British zombie film to grace our screens, presents one of the most original tales yet. However, the array of poor acting and a general lack of character or plot development causes this film to tumble into mediocrity.
In a world already plagued with a zombie fungus, hybrid children of the disease are in military imprisonment in the hope of producing a cure. After the prison is overrun by the infected, Melanie (newcomer Sennia Nanua) escapes with her beloved teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton), a heartless doctor (Glenn Close), along with a few surviving soldiers. On their way to safety they spot the fungus has grown into plants from the brains of the dead, spawning pods that would cause the infection to spread airborne – or, as Glenn Close puts it: “the end of the world”.
In zombie films, a fungus that has an actual evolutionary plan seems to be one of the most original plot devices out there, along with the use of hybrid children. It’s different. Yet, it’s tempting to say that these concepts (based from a book) are the only things going for it. Gemma Arterton’s miserably bland acting offers no addition to the plot, and the lack of direction for Melanie and the other children means that scenes that could’ve been incredible become comparable to a stagecoach class of roaring children.
This film was a long way off from being the next 28 Days Later. With beautifully shot scenes, accompanied by haunting music, The Girl With All the Gifts seems planted in the middle of genres. There is not enough horror or gore to salvage it as a zombie film, yet not enough plot to make this a drama. Ingenious concepts were undercut by poor direction and zero character development anywhere. This is a true disappointment for zombie fans.