The Girl With All The Gifts

Film, Thrillers
5 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
The Girl With All The Gifts

A radical and brilliant futuristic zombie movie

Easily the best thing to happen to the undead since ‘28 Days Later’, Colm McCarthy’s ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ injects some life into the tired old zombie movie with fresh ideas, some poetic imagery and a dark end-of-civilisation aftertaste. Here the monsters are called ‘hungries’ – fast, jaw-snapping things that don’t constantly moan or gasp. Most of the time, they’re standing completely still, as if asleep, waiting for the dinner bell. It’s an eerie revision to the usual lumbering.

But the plot itself races ahead from the get-go. In a military bunker in post-apocalyptic England, precocious children like Melanie (Sennia Nanua) are strapped into wheelchairs and escorted by armed guards to their classroom. Soon we learn why: the merest whiff of human flesh sends these kids into a writhing, drooling frenzy. They’re human experiments, pint-sized victims of the crazy-making fungal infection that’s killed the world above.

MR Carey’s screenplay, adapted from his own 2014 novel, launches a steady stream of off-kilter surprises. When the base is overrun by a sickening attack – one that puts the carnage in ‘The Walking Dead’ to shame – Melanie is smuggled out by a tense, bickering trio: her favourite teacher (Gemma Arterton), a surly, battle-weary army officer (Paddy Considine) and the all-business scientist close to a vaccine (Glenn Close). This is the most formidable horror cast in years.

‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ then becomes a riot of surreal visions: Melanie is strapped to a chair on top of a truck (it’s too risky to let her ride inside), while the survivors cruise through a quiet forest. It must be years since the end of the world, judging from all the foliage. As this makeshift family bonds, Melanie takes on more responsibilities, hunting down resources for the group. The movie is a coming-of-age story, but whose age is coming? That’s the profound question we’re left with, in a stellar adaptation that balances gore with black humour, ethical dilemma, hope and – yes – plenty of brains.

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Release date:
Friday September 23 2016
111 mins

Cast and crew

Colm McCarthy
M.R. Carey
Sennia Nanua
Gemma Arterton
Paddy Considine
Glenn Close

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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It’s a while since I’ve been as disappointed in a film as I was in this one. Relentlessly dull with a score that did its best to force itself screechingly into my psyche, it was full of completely un-empathetic characters brought to (vague) life by actors who were all woefully miscast or underutilized. Not only did I not care what happened to any of them, I genuinely cannot understand the comparisons to iconic movies of this genre such as ’28 Days Later’ which was terrifying & moving in ways that this film can only dream of being.

The script was clunky from the opening scene and barely five minutes in, I knew this wasn’t working for me but like Leo on that piece of floating Titanic wood, I clung on until the very end. I’d like to give newcomer Sennis Nanua the benefit of the doubt and hope that she gets the chance to do something else because thanks to the dialogue she was given, she was utterly dreadful in this. Annoying in practically every scene but particularly the early ones in the classroom and the later Lord-of-the-Flies set pieces, she gave me no reason at all to understand Gemma Arterton’s fascination with her. Arterton, incidentally, was completely wasted here as was Glenn Close and Paddy Considine; a cast of this calibre should have been able to lift the movie around them but the words silk purse and sow’s ear spring to mind.

I would say the whole thing felt very TV to me except TV at the moment is producing some absolute crackers of shows and the only cracker here was the one I needed to keep me awake. Characters behaved in ways that were often laughably unbelievable, there was very little explanation of how the world had got to this point, the ending was infuriatingly vague and frankly the only gift I want in relation to this film is that of the time back that I wasted watching it.


Great cast Glenn Close, Paddy Considine and Gemma Arterton and young newcomer Sennia Nenua who no doubt is going to be a upcoming new star.

This film is a bit like 28 Days Later, World War Z and I am Legend with the rage virus situation and the cure mission.

I think this situation on how people were infected by a plant type fungus is quite believable and concerning in a way.

If you love action (mild though), the army and zombie type people then I highly recommend watching this movie.


It wasn't what I was expecting... I didn't even know it was a zombie film!

The Cristobal Tapia de Veer score was fantastic, really got under my skin. At some points the bass was so deep that it made the whole cinema shake.

Sennia Nanua was fantastic, a really good little actress. Glenn Close also did a great job as the main doctor. 


With strong echoes of 28 days later, and a hint of Never Let Me Go, this is also a superior zombie film depicted in and around a crumbling and deadly London.

There are great moments of suspense and thrill pulled off by the top cast including Glenn Close, Paddy Considine and Gemma Arterton.

Young newcomer Sennia Nenua is no doubt going to be a rising star.

The haunting debut score by Cristobal Tapia de Veer is perfectly realised and enhances the atmosphere further.

The moments of violence are not shot for gratuity with the odd moment of humour also thrown in.

It does drag in places though and could do with a little trimming to keep the momentum going.