The Girl with All the Gifts

8 Overall Score
Writing: 9/10
Production: 7/10
Performances: 8/10

A skillful and engrossing new take on the genre. Strong performances.

A limited budget constrains the film.

The Girl With All The Gifts
Director: Colm McCarthy
Writers: Mike Carey (novel), Mike Carey (screenplay)
Stars: Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Dominique Tipper

We’ve never recovered from the bomb George Romero dropped into our heads half a century ago. For less than $120,000, he unleashed the flesh-eating horde in Night of the Living Dead, and we’ve been running and fighting in front of it ever since, in our nightmares and most thrilling fantasies. How many zombie films have there been? How many books? Everyone loves the metaphor of being the only thinking person in a crowd of idiot maniacs. But aren’t we sick of it yet? Even Fear the Walking Dead got renewed for a fourth season!

So the British film The Girl with All the Gifts has long odds to beat, trying to do something new and intriguing with a genre so well-used that even I wrote a zombie novel. And The Girl succeeds. Colm McCarthy’s skillful directing and Mike Carey’s excellent writing are more than capable of keeping you interested in what happens next, even when you’re pretty sure that you know. But you don’t always know—there are enough twists in this, even a whole new zombie ecology, to surprise even the collector of Romero special edition Blu-rays.

Director McCarthy deserves credit for getting Casting Director Colin Jones, because he landed grand dame Glenn Close for a leading role in this art house bone-gnawer. Gemma Arterton shines as Helen Justineau, a teacher you should hate immediately. But this movie is made by Sennia Nanua, the spooky-good teenaged actress in her break-out role as the girl in the muzzle. The child has so much talent that the viewer will worry for her sanity.

The Girl with All the Gifts is recommended for anyone who loves the sprinting dead, new twists on this old genre, and watching zombies get zapped in the face with SA80A2s. You know it’s Britain getting overrun when the Enfield bullpups come out.



Author: Brian Downes View all posts by
Brian Downes is a writer who lives in Orlando, Florida. His novel, The Berlin Fraternity, about a man who hunts vampires for the Third Reich, is available on the Kindle and through He enjoys pen and paper roleplaying games and geek culture. He clearly remembers waiting for The Empire Strikes Back to hit theaters, and vindicate his opinion that of course Vader was not Luke's father. You can't trust Vader's word!

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