Matilda goes to hell
It seems like it’s the in thing right now, to make zombie apocalypse films, they appear to be everywhere weather it’s period pieces like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or foreign reinvention in The Train To Bucharest. However, we (the British) always have one horror film in the mix of movies coming out from our shores and The Girl With All The Gifts is the latest.
It’s a strange title for a horror film, The Girl With All The Gifts. It makes her sound like a superhero, the aforementioned girl is Melanie, whom at the beginning of the film is being treated like a prisoner of war or worse. This is because while she might act and look like any other member of humanity she (and her classmates) carry the zombie curse and will turn into rabid dogs the second any real meat is within gnarling distance.
It’s a disturbing idea that such deep evil can be hidden in pure innocence, while these children are being denied a childhood it is only cultivating them more into monsters. Yeah, the film is heavy on the social commentary. But, I like that. I like that it has something to say and will say it both elegantly and grotesquely at us, with all the subtleness and poise of an elephant doing ballet, you couldn’t ignore it but you’d still marvel at its level of control.
That, bizarrely is a feature of The Girl With All The Gifts far more often than not Colm McCarthy (the director) chooses to hold back the scares and action, allowing the characters to develop more as people than to hit us with a jump scare. Somehow this only makes the film more unnerving. Now is as good as time as any to say that the film isn’t scary, in the slightest. What The Girl With All The Gifts is instead is impactful, compelling, disturbing and fearless.
Colm McCarthy is a brave man. His past work has shown that he knowns how to shoot a T.V. show but never a film before, if this is his opening gambit I wait with bated breath for his next outing. McCarthy has more talent in a single sitting of 2 hours than some directors achieve in a lifetime of mediocre movies. While I’m talking about brave I should mention the ending. The Girl With All The Gifts ending is one of the most divisive I’ve ever seen, but it matches with the low key of the rest of the film.
I would be mistaken to praise the film so highly and overlook Sennia Nanua who does incredible work as Melanie. This is Sennia’s first major role, and she is holding the screen alongside powerhouses like Glenn Close and Paddy Constantine, also Gemma Arterton is there too. True talent is easy to stop and both Sennia Nanua and Colm McCarthy are just that. Talents.
Few films this year have stayed with me longer than The Girl With All The Gifts, Colm McCarthy has made a drama about childhood and wrapped it in a zombie horror movie, and done it all with a grace that makes what we see on screen fascinating. A must see.