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Close Encounters

The Girl With All The Gifts follows a class of youngsters who are strapped down to wheelchairs and subjected to experimentation and academics (you decide which is worse). One child, a young girl, appears to possess unusual attributes different than the other children, in that she appears to be able to suppress a zombie-like trait more easily than the other children. As chaos ensues, tough decisions are made, and the girl who is proverbially thrown from the nest must learn her own way to fly.

The Girl With All The Gifts Review

I wouldn't blame a soul for being sick of zombie films. With the never-ending onslaught comes the symptom of losing their appeal. The commentary they instate becomes diluted from every blow to the undead head. Yet, masterpieces can still be found in the sub-genre that take it the extra mile we desperately wish for. This film is one such zombie flick.

TGWATG (even the acronym is too much) is the most personal and engaging zombie film since 28 Days Later. Each character has its role. Each line of the script has its purpose. Each scene has its moral dilemma and driven plot elements. There is little not to like in this film, except perhaps that you'll find a host of zombie tropes you might be tired of.

Each character latches on to their respective roles in the post-apocalyptic world. We have the living cure, the heart-sleeved romantic clinging to humanity, the prejudicial soldier, and the hardened doctor who would sacrifice humanity to save it. Yet their interwoven tale attaches to your attention in a way that slaps in the face of their conventional character design. But what drives their interactions to new heights is the fact that every character is seemingly acting selflessly towards their own goals. The tension between the survivors isn't controlled by the instinctive need to survive at the cost of those around us, but by their insatiable desire to satisfy their respective endgames that they consider necessary and right. It makes all the difference in how you perceive the film.

The acting is superb; from veteran Glenn Close to rookie Sennia Nanua. Sennia delivers a fantastic performance as the living-zombie that struggles with her equally conflicting elements of humanity and insatiable hunger. Her constant battle with the hunger and her conscience sprinkles down to the motifs of every other character. The key divide we see there is between Glenn and Gemma Arterton, who fall on opposite sides of the fence on how to handle Sennia and the other children like her. It gives a dynamic breathed on, but rarely torn into, and it makes for a film unlike any other.

Zombie fans will recall similarities with The Last of Us in the behavior of the zombie plague. In many ways, this film is what a Last of Us film adaptation should be. Take the concept of the video game and write an original story that could fit in the universe. The Last of Us behaves so much like a film that it seems redundant to make a film adaptation. Similar to the argument against Uncharted's already an interactive movie, what's the point? TGWATG can be seen as an unintentional schematic on how to do an adaptation right.

But to call it an unintentional adaptation doesn't do the film justice. There is little left for a zombie film to do that wouldn't be considered familiar from previous works. What makes the difference between good and bad is how the film is treated. And few zombie films, or horror films in general, are as well-treated as this film. It uses the vehicle of horror to push character development to its fullest. Of course, the strength of the character development comes at the expense of the horror elements. This film isn't strictly horror, and as such it is important for the horror movie fanatic to go in with some patience and understanding that this isn't a romping gore fest, but an entertaining film nonetheless.

Horror Qualifier: 7/10

Horror Quality: 6/10

Film Quality: 8/10

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