The Girl with All the Gifts review: ‘Sennia Nanua is brilliant in original zombie fantasy’

The Girl with All the Gifts. Picture: Aimee Spinks.

The Girl with All the Gifts. Picture: Aimee Spinks. - Credit: Archant

Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close star in zombie apocalypse movie that grabs you from the very first moment

The zombie apocalypse remains the culture’s preferred end-of-it-all fantasy, and one that the British have traditionally been rather good at: Shaun of the Dead, Dead Set, Cockneys vs Zombies.

The most thoroughly British of British zombie films is Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, a film so PC it refuses to label its packs of flesh eating creatures Zombies: you can have them ripping apart human flesh but let’s not have them stigmatised.

The Girl with All the Gifts is another rather fine and well-mannered zombie movie and, just as in 28 Days Later, the menace isn’t from the undead, but creatures who have become flesh eaters due to a virus.

The Girl has all the things you expect of a zombie movie: an underground bunker where there’s tension between military and scientists; the group of survivors moving through the derelict remains of a famous city; a scene where people try to tip toe through a group of zombies without rousing them.


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Its central character though is entirely original – an endearing, swotty, polite, child zombie. Melanie (newcomer Sennia Nanua, brilliant) is one of a group of infected children who have retained their humanity even while they lust for human flesh. Melanie is the brightest of the group of children who are taught by Gemma Arterton and experimented on by Glenn Close, in the hope they contain a cure.

The film makes the most of its limited budget, has a top notch cast and a distinctive, creepy score. Its winning mix of the familiar and innovation grabs you from the very first moments and reassures you that it is going to be worth the journey.

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Rating: 4/5 stars

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