The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”. Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.
At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell. Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions. And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease these second-generation “hungries” are able to think and feel making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.
The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest. Melanie is special. She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.
When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.
Ever since I started writing zombie fiction in 2000, I’ve been asked when I think the undead bubble will burst. Looking back, it’s interesting how my answer has changed. For a long time I thought us zombie authors were living on borrowed time, and that interest would begin to wane at any moment. It didn’t happen, and like the swarms of reanimated corpses which populate zombie novels and films, the zombie-craving audience just keeps getting bigger. Now, the best part of two decades since the first AUTUMN
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is a beautiful movie which takes the genre in an unexpected direction. It’s reminiscent of THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS
Visually the film hits the mark, particularly in later scenes where my beloved hometown of Birmingham doubles-up as an alien spore and dead body filled London. There’s a decidedly creepy vibe as the military lead a dwindling pack of survivors though a forest of frozen infected, knowing that a wrong movement at any moment could have devastating implications.
But it’s the human, rather than in-human conflicts which make THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS such a success. On the face of it, it’s a relatively simple and straightforward story, but Carey’s smart script forces us to ask a number of uncomfortable questions which are probably best summed up by the tagline from one of the British movie posters – our greatest threat is our only hope.
An excellent film, which I recommend without hesitation. While you’re waiting to see the movie (as well as the US theatrical release, this month also sees the release of the UK Blu-ray), I’d also recommend Carey’s original novel