The Girl with All the Gifts (film)

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The Girl with All the Gifts
The Girl with All the Gifts poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byColm McCarthy
Produced by
  • Will Clarke
  • Camille Gatin
  • Angus Lamont
Written byMike Carey
Based onThe Girl with All the Gifts
by M.R. Carey
Music byCristobal Tapia de Veer
CinematographySimon Dennis
Edited byMatthew Cannings
  • Altitude Film Sales
  • BFI Film Fund
  • Poison Chef
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • 3 August 2016 (2016-08-03) (Locarno Film Festival)
  • 23 September 2016 (2016-09-23) (United Kingdom)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$2.3 million[2]

The Girl with All the Gifts is a 2016 British post-apocalyptic zombie horror drama film directed by Colm McCarthy and written by M.R. Carey adapted from his novel of the same name. Starring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, and Sennia Nanua, the film depicts a dystopian future following a breakdown of society after most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection. The plot focuses on the struggle of a scientist, a teacher, and two soldiers who embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.[3]


In the near future, humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious fungal disease (a mutation of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis). The infected have turned into fast, mindless flesh-eaters, referred to as "hungries". Humankind's only hope is a small group of hybrid, second generation children who crave living flesh but retain the ability to think and learn. The children are imprisoned by a group of soldiers led by Sergeant Eddie Parks, and go to "school" at an army base in the Home Counties, where they are experimented on by Dr Caroline Caldwell. Helen Justineau is responsible for educating and studying the children. Among the children is an exceptional girl named Melanie.

Melanie is taken for experimentation by Caldwell when the base is overrun by hungries and the lab is breached, resulting in the infection of a research assistant. Melanie escapes the lab and wanders outside, where soldiers are violently attacked in a chaotic mass breach. Melanie is stunned by what she sees, but violently attacks and infects two soldiers who are trying to restrain Helen. Helen and Melanie jump aboard an escaping armoured truck with Parks, Caldwell and two surviving soldiers, Kieran Gallagher and Dillon.

The soldiers want to shoot Melanie, but Helen shields her and Caldwell insists she needs her. Melanie is muzzled and restrained as the group escapes into the wilderness. After the truck breaks down and Dillon is killed, the group reaches London on foot and are able to make their way through a group of dormant hungries, using a "blocker" gel which masks their scent, before barricading themselves overnight in an abandoned hospital. Caldwell reveals to Melanie that "second generation" hungries were discovered after newborns killed their infected mothers by burrowing out of the womb. In the morning, the group realise they have been surrounded by a horde of hungries, and Melanie volunteers to help. She captures a small dog to use as bait, leading the hungries away so the group can escape.

As they progress through London they come across a mass of infected bodies encircling the overgrown BT Tower. Caldwell explains to the group that the fungal growth contains seed pods, which if released could end humankind. The group also come across a mobile laboratory in which they take shelter. Caldwell, injured during the initial attack on the base, reasons that she can save Helen and the human race by sacrificing Melanie to complete her vaccine research. As the group runs out of food, Kieran ventures into the city alone on a supply run, but is trapped and killed by a tribe of feral children. Caldwell stays behind as the remaining group attempts a rescue, only for them to be surrounded by the feral children. Melanie is confronted by the leader, but is able to subdue and kill him with a bat. The remaining children back off, allowing Melanie, Parks and Helen to escape.

Upon their return, Caldwell sedates the group and confronts Melanie. Melanie comes to the realisation that she is not an experiment, and that her kind will be the future. She escapes and sets the towering seed-pod structure alight, causing it to release an immense cloud of airborne spores. Caldwell chases after her but is killed by the tribe of children. Parks finds Melanie by the blazing tower, but is infected by the spores. He cries over the inevitable end of the world, whereas Melanie simply states it's just "not yours any more". He hands Melanie his sidearm, and she tearfully obliges and shoots him as he is about to turn. Melanie then returns to the lab. Helen, standing just inside the hermetically sealed door, fearfully watches as the released spores fall around the lab.

The film ends with a tearful Helen awakening, secure but imprisoned inside the sealed mobile med lab. Outside, the second generation hybrid children of the army base, along with the feral children, sit together, kept sternly in place by Melanie. Helen speaks through a microphone, once again educating the children.



The book and film were written in tandem, with Carey also writing the screenplay, which was placed on the 2014 Brit List, a film-industry-compiled list of the best unproduced screenplays in British film. Colm McCarthy came aboard as director for his first major feature.[4] The movie was originally titled She Who Brings Gifts but was later retitled, matching the book.[5]

On 23 March 2015, casting was announced for the film.[6] Of whether or not the film would be similar to the novel, Carey stated:[7]

We went a slightly different way in the movie, especially when it came to point of view. Where the novel moves between the five main characters and lets us see what’s going on in all of their heads, the movie sticks with Melanie all the way. And there are no Junkers in the movie. The base falls to a hungry attack. But it’s a case of two different paths through the same narrative space. The ending is absolutely faithful to the book.

— M.R. Carey, in an interview with Mom Advice[7]

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 BFI. Warner Bros. bought the United Kingdom distribution rights, while the film is being distributed in the United States by Saban Films.[8][9]


Principal photography began on 17 May 2015 in The West Midlands, taking place in Birmingham city centre, Cannock Chase, Dudley and Stoke-on-Trent.[10] Filming lasted seven weeks.[11] Aerial views of a deserted London were filmed with drones in the abandoned Ukrainian town of Pripyat, which has been uninhabited since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.[8]


The Girl with All the Gifts received positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85%, based on 110 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Girl with All the Gifts grapples with thought-provoking questions without skimping on the scares — and finds a few fresh wrinkles in the well-worn zombie horror genre along the way".[12] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13]

Dave Robinson of Crash Landed described the film as a "tense and intriguing experience" noting that whilst its final act "goes a little off the reservation" the performance of lead Sennia Nanua will "make you both care [for her] and simultaneously feel on edge" along with the "smart choices" in the CGI department to create a "grounded feel" that offers clear similarities to 28 Days Later.[14]


  1. ^ "The Girl with All the Gifts (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 23 June 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  2. ^ "The Girl with All the Gifts". Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy. "Glenn Close Among Cast of UK Zombie Thriller 'She Who Brings Gifts'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  4. ^ Sandwell, Ian (10 February 2016). "Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close join 'She Who Brings Gifts'". Screen International. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  5. ^ Sandwell, Ian (11 September 2016). "Glenn Close says her new zombie movie is "more of a character-driven thriller", actually". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  6. ^ Barraclough, Leo. "Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close to Star in 'She Who Brings Gifts'". Variety. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b Clark, Amy Allen (3 August 2014). "Sundays With Writers: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey". Mom Advice. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  8. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (4 August 2016). "The story behind 'The Girl With All The Gifts'". Screen International. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  9. ^ "2nd US Trailer For 'The Girl With All The Gifts' Movie". VannDigital. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  10. ^ Young, Graham (9 June 2015). "What is 'She Who Brings Gifts' about?". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  11. ^ Wooding, Andy (24 September 2016). "'The Girl with All the Gifts' producer – Camille Gatin – In Conversation". Film Doctor. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  12. ^ "The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  13. ^ "The Girl with All the Gifts Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  14. ^ Robinson, Dave (15 September 2016). "The Girl with All The Gifts – Film Review". Crash Landed. Retrieved 17 September 2016.

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