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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|
|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 have 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 and wanders outside, where soldiers are violently attacked in a failing, chaotic mass breach. Melanie is stunned by what she sees, but 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 restrained as the group escapes into the wilderness. After the van breaks down, the group reaches London on foot and barricade themselves overnight. Caldwell reveals to Melanie that "second generation" hungries were discovered after newborns killed their infected mothers by burrowing out of the womb. In the morning, the group realize they have been surrounded by a horde of hungries, and Melanie volunteers to help. She captures a small dog to use as bait, leading the hungries away so the group can escape.
As they progress through London they come across a mass of infected bodies encircling the overgrown BT Tower. Caldwell explains to the group that the fungal growth contains seed pods, which if released could end humankind. The group also come across a mobile laboratory in which they take shelter. Caldwell, injured during the group's trip across london, reasons that she can save Helen and the human race by sacrificing Melanie to complete her vaccine research. As the group runs out of food, a member ventures into the city alone and is trapped by a tribe of hybrid children. Caldwell stays behind as the remaining group forms an aborted rescue mission.
Upon their return, Caldwell sedates the group and confronts Melanie. Melanie comes to the realization that she is not an experiment, and that her kind will be the future. Melanie escapes to the centre of London and sets the towering seed-pod structure alight, causing it to release an immense cloud of airborne spores. Caldwell chases after her but is killed by the tribe of children. Sgt. Parks (a member of the group) finds Melanie by the tower ablaze. He cries out at end of the world, whereas Melanie simply states its just "not yours anymore". He hands Melanie his sidearm, and she tearfully obliges as he is about to turn. Melanie then returns to the lab. Helen, standing just inside the hermetically sealed door, fearfully watches the spores fall around the lab.
The film closes with a tearful Helen awakening, secure but imprisoned inside the mobile med lab. Outside, the second generation children of the army base, along with the feral children sit together, kept sternly in place by Melanie. Helen speaks through a microphone, once again to educate the children.
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.