THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (2016) Reviews and overview



‘Our greatest threat is our only hope’

The Girl with All the Gifts is a 2016 British post-apocalyptic zombie horror feature film directed by Colm McCarthy (Doctor Who; Ripper Street) from a screenplay by M.R. Carey, adapted from his novel of the same name. The movie stars Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close and Sennia Nanua.


In a dystopian near future, humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious fungal disease. The afflicted are robbed of all free will and turned into flesh-eating “hungries”. Humankind’s only hope is a small group of hybrid children who crave human flesh but retain the ability to think and feel.

The children go to school at an army base in rural Britain, where they’re subjected to cruel experiments by Doctor Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close). School teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) grows particularly close to an exceptional girl named Melanie (Sennia Nanua), thus forming a special bond.

However, when the base is invaded by “hungries”, the trio escape with the assistance of Sergeant Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) and embark on a perilous journey of survival, during which Melanie must come to terms with who she is…


Half of the film’s £4 million budget came from the BFI Film Fund and Creative England, making it the biggest investment that the latter had ever made and one of the largest ever for the British Film Institute.


screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-16-27-26Warner Bros. bought the United Kingdom distribution rights, while the film is being distributed in the United States by Saban Films. It was released on January 26, 2017 via DirecTV and on VOD on February 24, 2017.


The Girl with All the Gifts is clearly influenced by the genre greats such as 28 Days Later, crafted with just a small budget and some grounded CG work, it manages to pull off a tense experience that once again puts British crafted undead movies on the map, and even create a future star with a breakout performance from Sennia Nanua.” David Robinson, Crash Landed

“The movie is a coming-of-age story, but whose age is coming? That’s the profound question we’re left with, in a stellar adaptation that balances gore with black humor, ethical quandary, hope and—yes—plenty of brains.” Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York


“The best zombie-ish apocalypse in years. Sennia Nanua is a major discovery, but it’s the dense social commentary and moral dilemmas that will haunt you.” Helen O’hara, Empire

“Ms. Nanua is an appealing, relaxed performer, and her convincing portrayal of a clever, decent, good-humored young person is the key to the film’s effectiveness. The Girl With All the Gifts doesn’t really venture into new territory, but it does a decent job of reminding us why zombies are so scary, and so interesting.” A.O. Scott, The New York Times

The Girl With All the Gifts manages to deliver everything you could possibly want from a zombie movie: Tons of scares, memorable characters, creative variations of the genre’s classic tropes, and serious subtext about what it means to be alive.” Matt Singer, ScreenCrush


“What really separates The Girl with All the Gifts from the genre pack, however, is its moral intelligence, clever thematic consistency (drawing on the Greek myth of Pandora’s box) and emotional heft, the latter component rooted in the truly captivating breakout performance of young Nanua…” Charles Gant, Screen Daily

“The only one going all out is Close, whose character is a mad scientist, loquacious exposition dispenser and all-round explainer and generally a will-stop-at-nothing crazy woman. At the frustratingly vague end of the film, you realize that the zombie movie she signed up for in her head was a lot pulpier and more fun than the one she actually ended up playing in.” Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter


“Ultimately, our monster child’s coming-of-age holds more interest than slamming together science-fiction babble with the drone of more gunfire. At least the ending teases something akin to that of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, as well as a wholly better film: one where conflict has manifested into something wholly different than another fight for the future.” Ethan Vestby, The Film Stage

“Chilean composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer’s pounding soundtrack creates a constant sense of uneasiness, while the film’s vibrant imagery pairs immersive master shots of the empty landscapes with telling closeups that hint at divided allegiances. In the spectacular finale, the movie takes on the haunting, expressionistic dread of a Bosch painting.” Eric Kohn, IndieWire


“The traveling band aspect of The Walking Dead, the cities and landscapes empty of human existence of 28 Days Later, the military aspect of Day of the Dead—it’s easy to pick apart the influences of The Girl with All the Gifts. But just as Melanie marks something altogether new in this world—a zombie with a conscience—the film about her feels inspired by what came before but also good enough to inspire those that come after.” Brian Tallerico,

“Director McCarthy does little visually that would generate a sense of fear in any viewer, and there’s nothing that will generate so much as a startled jump. A few curse words together with some zombie gobbles take the film outside the children’s market, making it hard to guess the target audience. The repetitive, droning music is meant to build tension though mostly just calls attention to itself.” Jay Weissberg, Variety

Cast and characters:

  • Sennia Nanua … Melanie
  • Fisayo Akinade … Kieran Gallagher
  • Dominique Tipper … Devani
  • Paddy Considine … Sergeant Eddie Parks – The World’s End; Hot Fuzz
  • Anamaria Marinca … Doctor Jean Selkirk
  • Gemma Arterton … Helen Justineau
  • Anthony Welsh … Dillon
  • Glenn Close … Doctor Caroline Caldwell – Mary Reilly; Mars Attacks!Fatal Attraction
  • Mia Garcha … Melanie Double
  • Grace McGee … Anne
  • Eli Lane … Kenny
  • Connor Pratt … Peter
  • Joe Lomas … Joe
  • Will Brooks … Painted Boy
  • Joel Sheldon … T-Shirt Boy
  • Tessa Morris … Rat Girl

Filming locations:

  • Birmingham city centre, England
  • Cannock Chase, Dudley, England
  • Stoke-on-Trent, England

Aerial views of a supposedly deserted London were filmed with drones in the abandoned Ukrainian town of Pripyat, which has been uninhabited since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.