Using my Laughs, tears, cheese and cheers rating system, here is my spoiler-free review for British zombie-flick ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’, with links below if you want to find out more.
I’ve been looking forward to watching this, both because of my general love of ‘serious’ Zombie movies, and because a large part of it was filmed just a few miles up the road from me in my home City of Stoke-on-Trent. Although it falls a little short of being a classic in the genre, it is entertaining, and showcases the ambition of British cinema.
I like my Zombie movies serious, and by that I mean not goofy. So, it’s kind of a good thing that there is nothing to laugh about, but it could have lightened the tone a little in places to help develop the sense of bonding between the characters.
All good zombie films find a unique route through the genre. In this case we follow the story of a young girl who is, well, different. Her charm and innocence contrast with the brutal life she has been born into, making the viewer sympathetic to her cause, mainly thanks to a very sweet and occasionally chilling performance from the young star Sennia Nanua.
The rest of the characters were a little too stereotypical to care much about, although Gemma Arterton’s ‘Helen’ came the closest.
To avoid spoilers, all I will say is that at one point it goes a bit ‘Lord of the Flies’ meets George A. Romero, and I don’t think it quite pulls it off in the way that I think they probably imagined on the storyboard, or in the original book (that I have not read, so I don’t know…)
I’ve been a bit stingy with the ‘cheers’ category because while I enjoyed the film, it never quite reaches the heights of drama or depth of character done so well before in ’28 Days Later’, which you naturally compare it to, being a British ‘big-ish’ budget zombie movie. As such, the finale doesn’t have the impact or the sense of scale that is implied by the plot.
There are some good, tense moments of tip-toeing through herds of ‘sleeping’ zombies that could spring into life at a loud sound or fast movement. But it is inconsistent, and soon overcome in ways I shall not mention. Also, a lot of the action takes place in relatively well-lit areas, which is rarely the bed-fellow of nail-biting horror and sometimes showed up the zombies for what they really were: a load of extras in make-up. I find it hard to be scared at extras in make-up, especially when I may well know some of them because it was filmed in the bus station I used to visit as a spotty teenager.
Bonus Category: Up ‘Anley Duck +3
I’m unashamedly going to award a whopping 3 bonus points for being both a British film, and because a large part of the filming took place in my home city of Stoke-on-Trent.
We occasionally get the odd film crew up here in Staffordshire, but not often, and I think a lot of local people were used as extras. Presumably it also brought some money in somewhere along the line, but mainly, it’s always good when the industry breaks out of London and remembers the rest of us (even though the film was set in London, I will always know it was actually the old Hanley bus station, which, to be fair, already looked like a dystopian nightmare before it was closed).
(Check the Leader Board to see how it compares…)
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