Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)

The few zombie movies that I like offered solutions to the problem rather than just be running away: I am Legend had a cure and in World War Z, Brad Pitt discovered a means of defense. Knowing that the heroes of a zombie genre can do nothing but run away feels restrictive. I am the one that feels tired for them.

In both the movies I mentioned the dead are not just left to the imagination as a reanimated corpse and it’s the same here in The Girl with All the Gifts. The “zombies” for this movie is described as infected with a form of a fungus which attacks the brain. Now having gained the why, the next question is how to get rid of the fungus and this is what Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) and the people of the facility are doing.

The best bet for a cure, so far, are anomalies observed in the infestation: children possessing the characteristics of the infected or what they call the “hungries” but having a more human demeanor.

Among those children is Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a ray of sunshine even in a dark and dreary place. She studies well; always has a smile on her face; always greets everyone by name. Basically she faces everyone like a human being unlike what the staff thinks of her.  I wonder if the filmmakers are saying something with that. But don’t be fooled, the children act human until they smell any living breathing organism including people. Then instinct takes over, they become ravenous and lose control.

Little miss sunshine with all her smile, her brains, and congeniality is perceived as having the best of both worlds so to speak. She certainly has better control than most children even though hungry still means hungry.  How to translate that into a solution to the “zombie” problem is the question.

Though I don’t think the movie had any less zombie scenes, The Girl with All the Gifts can feel more dialogue intensive perhaps because of those expectations. The overall atmosphere feels closer to drama than a fast paced chase.  Melanie who is vital to everything is divided among those who see her as a child and those who see her as less. She is accompanied by Dr. Caldwell, Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) and Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine)

The ending was certainly atypical of the genre and left me thinking what it means. What’s on the mind of the filmmakers? Or should the question be what’s on the mind of the author?  The Girl with All the Gifts is a book.

First, I sensed religious undertones. Melanie and the children are referred by Sgt. Parks with a derogatory term (watch the movie first I’m not gonna tell you) that in real life has been a magnet for religious debate. Plus Dr. Caldwell and Melanie often talk using the same themes as the arguments from said elicited religious debates. Melanie is the story.

However, I cannot definitely conclude this point as what the filmmakers are going for because of the lack of anything remotely spiritual in the movie. There was no mention of God and the like, or maybe it wasn’t needed.

Second. The other choice is that this movie is about generational conflicts. But this point of view feels even weaker as the dialogue never touched on the good and bad of each generation. Although for the movie good or bad feels like it is defined by age.

Then again I may just be making too much meaning into the story.  The bottom-line of the themes that I have observed can simply be just about survival which is what a zombie movie is all about, it just so happens that The Girl with All the Gifts makes me think more than most. That is good.  

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