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Girl With All the Gifts, The


Stars: Gemma Arterton, Sennia Nanua, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Anthony Welsh, Anamaria Marinca

Director: Colm McCarthy

It takes 20 minutes for us to realise that, despite the thoroughly misleading title, this is a zombie movie. Not that it isn't perfectly acceptable as such (and with a twist), it's just that the opening of the film promises something more special and interesting within the sci-fi and horror genres - even if the 'z' word itself is never mentioned.

In a tightly secure facility, children in orange uniforms are kept in cells and woken each morning to be clamped to a wheelchair and taken to a classroom, where a teacher, Helen (Arterton) asks them questions that would clearly be beyond the capacity of most children this age.

Most intelligent of the kids is Melanie (Nanua). But when Helen lays an affectionate hand on Melanie's head, she is torn off a strip by the army sergeant (Considine) in command of security, who shows her how easily the children can demonstrate feral tendencies.

They are under the overall care of Dr Caldwell (Close, a bit out of place), who plans to use their brains and spinal matter to create an antidote to the virus which we now see is raging outside of the compound, in the shape of hundreds of living dead kept out only by a high wire fence.

When the barrier is broken and the undead invade the facility, only a handful, including the sergeant, the teacher, the doctor, Melanie, on whom the doc was about to operate, and a couple of clearly-doomed soldiers, escape. So begins a trek (to where?) as characters predictably and conveniently wander around on their own to be consumed by zombie hordes.

Melanie is both menace and protector to the group. 'Do you want a cat?' asks one, seeing the girl gazing at a poster. 'I already had one,' says the girl, who has just munched on moggy for lunch. It's all good gory fun, apart from a crazy, light-hearted ending. Where did all those orange uniforms come from?

David Quinlan

UK 2016. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers . Colour (unspecified).
111 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 18 Sep 2016