The Girl with All the Gifts is a 2016 British post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film directed by Colm McCarthy and written by Mike Carey. The film is based on the book of the same name by Carey, The Girl with All the Gifts. Starring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, and Sennia Nanua, the film depicts a dystopian future following a breakdown of society after most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection. The plot focuses on the struggle of a scientist, a teacher, and two soldiers who embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.
In the near future, humanity has been ravaged by a disease caused by a parasitic fungus transmitted by bodily fluids. Over the prior decade, most of humanity that was infected turned into fast mindless zombies called \"hungries\". The only remaining hope is a cure that could be obtained from research on a small group of second-generation children who crave living flesh, but still think and learn, as the fungus has a symbiotic relationship with those born infected (neonates).
The children are imprisoned by a group of soldiers led by Sergeant Eddie Parks, and go to school at an army base in the Home Counties, where they are experimented on by Dr. Caroline Caldwell. Helen Justineau is responsible for educating and studying the children. Among them is an exceptional girl named Melanie, who Helen grows particularly close to, thus forming a special bond.
When the base is overrun by hungries and the operating lab is breached, Melanie escapes and wanders outside, where soldiers are being violently attacked. Melanie and Helen board an escaping truck with Caldwell and two surviving soldiers, Gallagher and Dillon. Melanie is restrained and muzzled to prevent her from biting the others. Dillon is killed when hungries attack as the group stops for water, and the truck is disabled when a fuel line is broken.
In the morning, the group realises they have been surrounded by hungries. Melanie, as a second-generation hungry, is ignored by them and therefore goes to explore abandoned houses, eating a stray cat during her time out. She helps the group by leading the hungries away with a stray dog so the group can escape.
Caldwell, injured and dying of sepsis, reasons that she can save the human race by sacrificing Melanie to complete her vaccine research in the lab. As the group runs out of food, Gallagher ventures into the city on a supply run, but is killed by a tribe of feral hungry children who have learned to trick uninfected people with a trail of food cans. When the rest of the group is surrounded by the feral children, Melanie handcuffs the leader and kills him with a bat. The remaining children back off, allowing the group to escape.
The film ends with a tearful Justineau, safe but confined to the sealed mobile lab due to the lethal spore-filled air. Outside, the hybrid children of the army base, along with the feral children, sit together, kept sternly in place by Melanie. Justineau speaks through a microphone, educating the newly-dominant human-zombie species.
The book and film were re-written in tandem, with Carey also writing the screenplay. Colm McCarthy came aboard as director for his first major feature. The movie was originally titled She Who Brings Gifts but was later retitled, matching the book. The title is a reference to the ancient Greek legend of Pandora the gift-giver, which is also referenced in the book by the character of Helen Justineau being a classics teacher.
Principal photography began on 17 May 2015 in The West Midlands, taking place in Birmingham city centre, Cannock Chase, Dudley and Stoke-on-Trent. Filming lasted seven weeks. Aerial views of a deserted London were filmed with drones in the abandoned Ukrainian town of Pripyat, which has been uninhabited since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Dave Robinson of Crash Landed described the film as a \"tense and intriguing experience\" noting that whilst its final act \"goes a little off the reservation\" the performance of lead Sennia Nanua will \"make you both care [for her] and simultaneously feel on edge\" along with the \"smart choices\" in the CGI department to create a \"grounded feel\" that offers clear similarities to 28 Days Later.
The characters bring their doctrines with them, ranging from stubborn empathy to kill-'em-all militarism, and every decision becomes a fractal of ideals. Some of these arcs feel more preordained than others, but even then, Carey allows for conflict within consistency: Dr. Caldwell is unwaveringly intent on the pursuit of a cure and willing to sacrifice anything (including Melanie), which positions her as both friend and foe, often within the same sentence.
The Girl with All the Gifts is grotesque and grimly hopeful by turns, underscored by lovingly detailed infection in both metaphorical and very literal terms: Spores and hopelessness are equally contagious. It's the creeping inevitability of many a zombie story, with which this book is right at home.
The ending that was chosen instead, where the main character cannot go through with killing his evil girlfriend and is whisked away to a happily ever after following his escape, allows for the white liberal audience to laugh along with the story (after having not implicated themselves to begin with, as Michael Dumas points out), again supporting the lie that there is a quick and natural solution to the problem of anti-Blackness that does not require much work.
In the book, which I have yet to read, Melanie is white and her teacher, Miss Justinaeu, is Black. In the film, those roles are reversed. I am not sure the filmmakers made this switch to purposefully reinforce ideas of Black revolution. Indeed, the close-up of Miss Justinaeu, crying as she is trapped in a tiny room as the last human being Melanie keeps alive at the end (for the purpose of continuing to teach the other zombie children), seems to be included to invoke a feeling of sympathy. White women are always the most ideal victims. If one sympathizes with Justinaeu, as a white audience might, and as I believe was intended, the film becomes less a triumph and more a tragedy.
We are not white audiences. It is time we stop pretending as if we need them. It is time a Black girl destroyed the world, destroyed humanity, destroyed society to save herself. And it is time we cheered them on when they try and succeed.
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If you fell in love with Melanie in the million-copy-selling post-apocalyptic phenomenon The Girl With All the Gifts - there's more to the story... Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy. The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world. To where the monsters lived. 59ce067264