As much as I strive to provide as close to objectivity as possible, some subjective factors do sometimes get in the way and exert an outsized pull on my response to a film. “The Girl with All the Gifts” was the sixth film in a marathon day of binge moviegoing at 2016’s Fantastic Fest. Colm McCarthy’s film had to contend for my attention with the perennial reigning champion of sleep.
This zombie flick mostly managed to hold my attention, though its contention with some high-quality shut eye led me to nitpick away at its flaws and banalities. Glenn Close’s near-constant regurgitation of exposition would be bad enough. But her shaky British accent made nearly every line she spoke like nails on a chalkboard. (Also, Gemma Arterton kind of looks like she could be related to Mads Mikkelsen. Look for it.)
“The Girl with All the Gifts” is not going to move the needle in its genre of horror. Mike Carey’s screenplay, adapted from his own novel, brings one interesting feature to the flesh-eating creatures. A group of young children can live with the fungus that creates zombies but maintain basic functions of a sentient human. They are sequestered away from the rest of the plague-infested earth by military personnel, although new developments involving the particularly gifted “hungry” Melanie forces a coalition out into ravaged areas of Britain to do … something. I’m not entirely sure, and that lack of certainty stems both from my own tiredness watching the film as well as unclear character motivations. Stick around for the ending if you can endure the familiar feeling of the rising action. B /