How to watch it:
Stream (It’s $0.99 so just go with this)
The rest of this challenge’s movies are listed here.
This one has a pretty grim start. A military installation has a bunch of kids that are kept prisoner and given a terse educational regime. Literally everyone despises them except for one of their teachers, Helen (Gemma Arterton). Her prize pupil, Melanie (Sennia Nanua) has a typically child-like dependence on the adults she trusts, but an extremely high intellect to go with it. Nanua never lets the viewer forget this, as her Melanie’s actions may on the surface waver from compliant to psychotic, but she’s always paying attention and learning.
The Girl with All the Gifts isn’t a total bloodbath, which works to the film’s benefit by having a few key disarming moments of gruesome content.
We’re sort of through the aesthetic looking glass here, Girl with All the Gifts is a very pretty movie, but its look is also very blatantly inspired by the 2013 video game The Last of Us. And beyond that a few of the scenarios, the zombie behavior, and even the reason the zombies come about will be very familiar to those who have played the game. Though fortunately the real life cordyceps fungi have only evolved to multiply through specific species of insects so far. Melanie and small group of other children, seem capable of controlling their hunger, but our adult characters each have a different idea on what to do about that, with ideas ranging from educational nurturing to dissection.
Young students are officially restricted to an awful memorization-only educational regimen. The stagnation and underestimation of their abilities has a grave effect on humanity’s future. The kids in the movie have it pretty rough too.
What this movie may lack in originality, however, it more than makes up for with its ambition. While parts of the opening may give one the impression that they’re in for a knockoff of similar conflicts in Day of the Dead, this movie is much more about not just Melanie’s potential, but her place in the world at large and how she decides to deal with it. Nanua’s performance is subtle, and she perfectly balances the tightrope of making us fearful of what Melanie is capable of while also rooting for her even during the film’s unexpected ending.
This movie’s “zombies” are referred to as “Hungries.” I like it.
The Girl with All the Gifts briefly seems like it’s going to become a road trip movie, and with this strong a cast it would have been easy to make a brainless action fest out of the novel’s material that still works. But by hanging the entire movie around Melanie’s growing agency and developing worldview we get something genuinely unique despite the familiar visuals.