Friday, 30 September 2016

The Girl with All the Gifts - The scoop and digest

Within classroom set anthologies An Apple for the Creature (2012) and Zombies: More Recent Dead (2014), is thirty-six page horror short Iphigenia in Aulis (title taken from one of the final works by Greek tragedian Euripides).

Zombie children schooled at a remote military facility proved to be the genesis for The Girl with All the Gifts.

In only his second feature film after Outcast, small screen veteran Colm McCarthy directs and Mike Carey adapts screenplay from novel of same name.

Before screaming dream team, let's not count infected chickens.

Apart from leaving out scavengers (dubbed junkers), differences from book are largely superficial.

This shouldn't surprise, as both were written hand in hand.

Gemma Arterton - Helen Justineau
Paddy Considine - Sgt. Parks
Sennia Nanua - Melanie
Glenn Close - Dr. Caldwell
Fisayo Akinade - Kieran
Anthony Welsh - Dillon

Variant of fungal infection ophiocordyceps unilateralis has decimated civilisation and unless pizza requires extra mushrooms, 'hungries' should be given a wide berth.

Teacher Miss Justineau is fond of child genius Melanie, but narrowly avoids bloody demise when visiting star pupil alone in cell.

Melanie is derived from the Greek word 'Melania', meaning 'black', and other derivatives.

Now you can sleep better knowing that.

Despite risk posed by intelligent cannibal, Dr. Caldwell sees her as the key to creating a vaccine.

We learn much later she's a 'newborn', the result of mother's infected placenta, with the ability to speak and think.

Shit hits the proverbial fan when hungries break in and along with Melanie, survivors evacuate.

For obvious reasons, Parks insists Melanie be muzzled and handcuffed.

Vast amounts of hungries stand catatonic around shopping centre and tip toe tactics must be employed to bypass certain death.

Things don't go swimmingly, but all escape unharmed and hospital provides safe haven.

Kieran wanders off and explores newsagent.  Unfortunately, he's dumb enough to follow one of Mel's kind and becomes tasty meal.

Mel confronts feral gang who back off when she kills their leader.

They stumble across stage 2 of infection, a giant tree with seedpods hanging.

Caldwell informs it will be the end of the world if pods open, as infection will be airborne.

Once inside still functioning armoured laboratory Rosalind Franklin (built soon after initial outbreak), Doc reveals she's dying from sepsis.

Upon returning from stroll, Caldwell gases all but thanks to fungus metabolising oxygen, Mel doesn't stay down for long.

Oh, scientific research declares there's no cure for infection.

Mel flees and Caldwell gives chase, but children intervene...

Tree is lit and inferno causes seeds to be released into the atmosphere.

Parks shows up and knowing change is imminent, Mel blows him away.

Some time later, seeds no longer linger and Miss J teaches children from inside lab, with sidekick keeping them in check.

Influenced by Gareth Edwards' 2010 debut Monsters, McCarthy's post-apocalyptic UK landscape looks stunning.

Situation is appropriately bleak and character study nearly succeeds.

Considine and Close are good, but Arterton doesn't convince.

As for newcomer Nanua, performance shines brightly.

Dystopian pie does serve a nice slice of deadpan humour.

Mel stares at a-board featuring feline variety and when asked 'Do you want a cat?', and referring to earlier meal, she replies 'I've already had one.'

However, enjoyable survival yarn has multiple problems.

Hissing neanderthals are like some fucking stupid version of Lord of the Flies.

Danny Boyle's non-zombie Rage virus from modern classic 28 Days Later and/or Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's impressive sequel 28 Weeks Later is blatantly copied.

Musical score raises eyebrows and tension-shy action suffers from occasionally duff CGI.

To more important matters.

"In the short story the pathogen was a virus and in the novel it was a fungus, because in between writing them both I watched a David Attenborough programme on the cordyceps fungus [a killer fungus that invades the bodies of insects to grow], and I thought to myself, this is just too good."

Fair enough, but I can't believe for one solitary second he was totally oblivious to Naughty Dog's 2013 masterpiece The Last Of Us.

Don't forget, novel was published in 2014.

Set 10 years before, prequel The Boy on the Bridge is out next May.

Will that also be adapted for the big screen?


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