THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS REVIEW
Starring: Sennia Nanua, Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Rohan Gotobed, for Into Film
The Girl with all the Gifts is a film that doesn’t make you sit on the edge of your seat, but rather long to sink into its depths to get as far away from the action as possible. Adapted by M.R. Carey from his dystopian novel, Gifts tells the story of Melanie (Senniua Nanua), an infected young girl whose brain might hold the vaccine to a zombified Britain. Directed by Colm McCarthy, the visuals are certainly well constructed with some pertinent images throughout the London-set second half (I enjoyed seeing how national landmarks such as Wembley Stadium or the Gherkin had become overgrown with weeds). A scene in echo base where you see the ‘hungries’ at their most threatening, got me with at least one spectacular jump scare.
Compared to other films in the zombie genre, however, Gifts falls more often into being a drama instead of a horror and is sadly rather unsatisfying in its approach. Though Melanie provides a fresh viewpoint and a spark of originality in a crowded marketplace (how many films and tv shows focus on the z word?), the pacing is skewered against fully exploring what could have been an interesting array of characters. Glenn Close is wonderful as Dr Caldwell, so it’s a shame she’s side-lined for much of the film. The opening, which might ultimately be the most intense and dynamic sequence, ends just as I was becoming engaged while, if you miss much of the implied exposition early on then you’ll feel forced to play catch up throughout.
More positive is the British wit. Paddy Considine plays Sergeant Parkes with deadpan quips, so there are surprisingly effective moments of levity in what is certainly not a feel-good film. There is an artistry to Gifts’ tone that, in the long-term, could set it apart from more mainstream movies. However, even as the technical aspects excel the thematic ones feel more generic – I came out questioning the film more than I questioned myself.
Overall, The Girl with the all the Gifts is an enigmatic independent feature that, even after a good night’s sleep, I’m still trying to get my head around. It does wonders with a tiny budget, yet in the end I came away feeling like it could have been better than it was. So I recommend for you to see it and support British cinema, even if Gifts might not be a cinematic landmark like 28 Days Later or Shaun of the Dead.