One from the to watch pile and the next of 2018’s Zombruary celebration…
The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)
Film: Possibly the thing I like the most about zombie films is that there is no real ‘traditional’ lore that has created a rule set so when you see something contrary to ‘tradition’ it seems out of place, or it puts you off. You know, a vampire film with the vampires walking in the day (especially if they are sparkling) or a werewolf who can change at will.
Creative license is obviously fine and occasionally can be put to good use for the sake of the story, but I am sure all of us who are horror fans just get a small twinge of ‘what the..?’ when we see one of these anomalies on screen.
Zombie films though don’t come under all that though as the mythologies are all different and most of us assume zombies to be a part of the rules laid down by George Romero’s Original Dead Trilogy, but films like Re-animator, Return of the Living Dead, the Dawn of the Dead remake and 28 Days Later shrug those rules and do their own thing, to varying degrees of success.
This film, based on the novel by Mike Carey and from a script by him, was directed by Colm McCarthy, director of Outcast and who has directed heaps of Tv including episodes of the aforementioned Black Mirror, Peaky Blinders and Doctor Who.
This synopsis may sound like Romero’s Day of the Dead and honestly, it does feel like that at the start, but where it ends up is completely different.
A group of children are being kept at a facility which is run by Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close) and controlled by Sgt Parks (Paddy Considine) and are being taught in a school where they are strapped into wheelchairs and moved around. The smartest and most intuitive of these children is Melanie (Sennia Nanua), the favourite student of Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton).
We very quickly find out though that these are not children, but instead subjects infected with a fungus that has turned them into flesh-eating monsters if they smell human skin. The humans who work at the facility use a cream on their skin which blocks their scent, preventing the children from ‘turning’.
Unfortunately the rest of the world has gone to pot with this infection and the creatures are everywhere, and when they manage to break into the facility, a small group, including the aforementioned bunch, manage to get away, but to where? How will they survive? Is there something even worse happening?
This cast…oh BOY, this cast are something special. Close and Considine are at the very tops of their game. Considine’s sergeant is a hard hitting bastard and Close is the no-nonsense Doctor and they are both powerhouses in their roles. Arterton’s character is wholly the heart and soul of the film and she plays it solidly. The real revelation in this film though is Nanua: she plays this delicate monster who doesn’t know what she is like an acting veteran. The whole movie had to be sold on her performance, and she sells it like an absolute professional.
I really like the make up on the zombies, or ‘the hungries’ and they are called in the film. The make up is reminiscent of the ones for Umberto Lenzi’s Incubo Sulla Città Contaminata aka Nightmare City but as this is a fungal infection that is causing the apocalypse, the hungries clothes have a real ‘overgrown’ look to them which is explored as the film goes on.
Typically, as I am a soundtrack collector, I noticed what an amazing hypnotic soundtrack this film has, composed by Cristobal Tapia De Veer, who also did an episode of Black Mirror and a few episodes of Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams Tv series’s.
The best thing about this film though is just how broad the story is. This isn’t just a zombie film, this isn’t just about survival, this isn’t just about tribalism and obsession. It’s about all of those things and it’s a cohesive brilliant piece of horror/ science fiction.
I absolutely loved this film and its shot right into my favourite films of all time list. Super recommended.
Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian Bluray release which runs for approximately 111 minutes and is presented in a perfect 2.00:1 image with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Extras: The only thing wrong with this film is the lack of extras. Bummer.
WISIA: There is so much width and depth to this film it’s going to be watched several more times over the next few months!