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|The Girl with All the Gifts|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Colm McCarthy|
|Written by||Mike Carey|
|Based on||The Girl with All the Gifts
by M.R. Carey
|Music by||Cristobal Tapia de Veer|
|Edited by||Matthew Cannings|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures (United Kingdom)
Saban Films (United States)
|Box office||$2.3 million|
The Girl with All the Gifts is a 2016 British post-apocalyptic zombie horror drama film directed by Colm McCarthy and written by M.R. Carey adapted from his novel of the same name. Starring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, and Sennia Nanua, the film depicts a dystopian future following a breakdown of society after most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection. The plot focuses on the struggle of a scientist, a teacher, and two soldiers who embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.
In the near future, humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious fungal disease (a mutation of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis). The afflicted are robbed of all free will and turned into fast, mindless flesh-eaters, referred to as 'hungries'. Humankind's only hope is a small group of hybrid, second generation children who crave living flesh but retain the ability to think and learn. The children are imprisoned, and go to "school" at an army base in the Home Counties, where they are experimented on by Dr. Caroline Caldwell. Helen Justineau is responsible for educating and studying the children. Among the children is an exceptional girl named Melanie.
The base is overrun and the lab is breached. Melanie escapes the lab but outside the hungries are everywhere and soldiers are being swarmed and violently attacked in a failing, chaotic mass breach. Melanie wanders stunned by what she sees, but then violently attacks and infects two soldiers who are trying to restrain Helen. Helen and Melanie jump aboard an escaping armoured van.
The soldiers want to shoot Melanie, but Helen shields her and Caldwell insists she needs her. Melanie is muzzled and handcuffed to the gunner's chair atop the armoured vehicle and the group escapes into the wilderness. The van breaks down, the group proceed to London on foot. Caldwell reveals to Melanie that "second generation" hungries were discovered after newborns killed their infected mothers by burrowing out of the womb. When they try to leave the next day, they realize the hospital has been surrounded by a greater horde of hungries, and Melanie offers to lead the hungries away. She captures a small dog to use as bait to distract and lure the hungries away from the hospital so the group can escape.
As they progress through London they come across a mass of decomposing, infected bodies encircling the completely overgrown BT Tower and sprouting seed pods. Caldwell explains to the group that the pods contain spores that if released could end humankind. She reasons that she can save Helen and the human race for Melanie by making a vaccine. Melanie asks why her kind should die to save humanity if Caldwell admits that the children are in fact alive and not just imitators. Melanie runs back to the centre of London where she sets the towering seed-pod structure alight, causing it to germinate en masse and release an immense cloud of airborne spores. Not to soon after, Sgt. Parks finds Melanie by the BT Tower, fully ablaze and already seemingly infected by the spores. He cries out that this is the end of the world, whereas Melanie simply states its just "not yours anymore". He asks her to put him out his misery as he does not want to end up a hungry. He hands her his sidearm, and she tearfully obliges as he is about to turn. Melanie then returns to the lab to find Helen, standing just inside the hermetically sealed door, fearfully watching the spores fall around the lab.
The film closes with a tearful Helen awakening, secure from infection in the airlock, but effectively a prisoner inside the mobile med lab. Outside, sitting on the ground are the second generation children of the school/prison at the army base, along with the feral children all waiting and collected together, kept sternly in place by Melanie. Helen begins speaking through a microphone on outside speakers, once again to educate and teach all the children. It closes with Melanie asking for her favorite, a story, to which Helen politely declines and says not until bedtime. Melanie then responds that there'll be lots of time.
The book and film were written in tandem, with Carey also writing the screenplay, which was placed on the 2014 Brit List, a film-industry-compiled list of the best unproduced screenplays in British film. Colm McCarthy came aboard as director for his first major feature. The movie was originally titled She Who Brings Gifts but was later retitled, matching the book.
We went a slightly different way in the movie, especially when it came to point of view. Where the novel moves between the five main characters and lets us see what’s going on in all of their heads, the movie sticks with Melanie all the way. And there are no Junkers in the movie. The base falls to a hungry attack. But it’s a case of two different paths through the same narrative space. The ending is absolutely faithful to the book.— M.R. Carey, in an interview with Mom Advice
Half of the film's £4 million budget came from the BFI Film Fund and Creative England, making it the biggest investment that the latter had ever made and one of the largest ever for the BFI. Warner Bros. bought the United Kingdom distribution rights, while the film is being distributed in the United States by Saban Films.
Principal photography began on 17 May 2015 in The West Midlands, taking place in Birmingham city centre, Cannock Chase, Dudley and Stoke-on-Trent. Filming lasted seven weeks. Aerial views of a deserted London were filmed with drones in the abandoned Ukrainian town of Pripyat, which has been uninhabited since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The Girl with All the Gifts received positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85%, based on 106 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Girl with All the Gifts grapples with thought-provoking questions without skimping on the scares -- and finds a few fresh wrinkles in the well-worn zombie horror genre along the way". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 67 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Dave Robinson of Crash Landed described the film as a "tense and intriguing experience" noting that whilst its final act "goes a little off the reservation" the performance of lead Sennia Nanua will "make you both care [for her] and simultaneously feel on edge" along with the "smart choices" in the CGI department to create a "grounded feel" that offers clear similarities to 28 Days Later.