Still, I have wished for a zombie flick that could peak my interest and rekindle that fire I used to have for those brain-eaters. So I watched "The Girl With all the Gifts" in the hope of the genre hadn't been ruined forever for me. I was drawn in by several hooks in this ambitious zombie flick.
Right at the start of "The Girl with all the Gifts," we know that we are in a dark universe. We're met with children who are treated poorly. Their heads are strapped down tight in wheelchairs, pushed around by soldiers who, mostly, won't speak with them or acknowledge them. The soldiers just refer to the children as "abortions".
It's obvious that these children are capable of the most wondrous kinds of art and intelligence. Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is one of these children. She just might be the brightest among them. Melanie's teacher, Helen, (Jemma Erterton), is willing to risk her life to nurture these kids.
Still, it's curious how government goes to great efforts to educate these little bastards, or abortions, as the soldiers like to call them. And why do all the grown-ups seem so terrified?
Every zombie movie has an "oh crap" moment when we see the military or doctors or whoever's in charge make a stupid mistake allowing the zombies take over in a matter of minutes. If it's a good movie, these moments are chilling.
Then here comes the "oh crap" moment.
We watch the moment from Melanie's POV in an operating room, knowing the true chaos, bloody and deadly is right outside their door, just in our periphery.
Normally films like these are about protecting weak children from the monsters. This film flips that coin. "The Girl With all the Gifts" is about child zombies. At least some of them can reason and the story is told from a zombie's point of view.
Somehow, through all the carnage, Melanie manages to escape with Helen, a soldier, (Paddy Considine) and the woman in charge of the medical experiments, Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close).
Helen and Melanie escape together, each helping the other through the genocidal battle.
Melanie, is more than an infected zombie. She actually might be their salvation. Melanie protects the group from zombie attacks. Monster or no, Helen nurtures some maternal feelings toward Melanie.
"The Girl With all the Gifts" is about the value of life. Why do some people deserve to live, violent scavengers or not, while others can be cast aside because of the way they're born? It's hyperbolic and an extreme example used to prove a point, but that point is a good one. With all of man's ambition, this need for power comes with a very real danger that could literally end everything.
The telling point lies in a question Melanie asks Helen. Why should the humans be the ones allowed to keep their place on their planet? She argues that since zombies are now sentient creatures, they have as much right as humans to dominate the world.
Now, I don't want to be the guy who's rooting for the zombies, but I had to stop and think. Why should human life as a species take precedence over a world run by zombies? As a human, of course I want us to remain dominant. But as I address the point of view of a sentient zombie like Melanie, I can't think of a good argument to retort.
Then I remembered, they're zombies. They eat brains. Go humans.