Adaptation Drama

'The Girl with All the Gifts' TIFF 2016 Review: Children of the living dead

September 8, 2016Ben MK

Officially, the movie and television genre reached "peak zombie" years ago. Yet, somehow, the pull of the undead is just too strong for filmmakers to stay away. Whether it's straight-to-video schlock, cult television programming or major motion pictures, zombies aren't just shambling — they're thriving, as evidenced by The Girl with All the Gifts, an adaptation of the 2014 novel by author Mike Carey.

A story about a young girl named Melanie (newcomer Sennia Nanua), The Girl with All the Gifts bears several of the hallmarks of young adult fiction, from the dystopian future setting — a world plagued by a virus that turns humans in zombie-like creatures nicknamed "Hungries" — to the adults (Paddy Considine, Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close) who think that children are the key to solving the crisis. The big difference this time is that Melanie isn't just the film's main character; she's also infected with the zombie virus. And when the British military base where a cure is being developed is overrun by hordes of infected, she may be the key to everyone's survival.

Outside of its zombie protagonist aspect, though, the rest of The Girl with All the Gifts unfolds exactly like how you'd expect a zombie movie would, which is to say that while director Colm McCarthy tries a few interesting things (most notably, an homage to "Lord of the Flies"), the bulk of the movie doesn't go beyond genre expectations. Otherwise, the cast is rock solid, and there's just enough bloody carnage to satisfy hardcore zombiphiles. But if you're looking for a zombie movie with more brains, your best bet is to just keep calm and shamble on.

The Girl with All the Gifts is receiving its North American premiere as part of TIFF 2016's Midnight Madness programme. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 50 Min.

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