By now you should think I know better. But apparently even being aware of the fact that you can't trust trailers I got duped again. The trailer promised us a zombie film that was going to be different and original. Or at least be somewhat creative and refreshing. The fact that this is based on a critically acclaimed novel suggests that there was much more to the story. Only it did not come out that way.
First of all people who are familiar with the videogame The Last of Us will notice a few similarities between this film and the game concerning real significant elements. It's peculiar that they exist but I can't tell you if either of them plagiarized each other. Could very well be that it's pure coincidence. Still it was one of the first things that popped in my mind when the film started to explain a few things. Now don't be fooled though. Just because there are similarities doesn't mean they are equally good. The Last of Us is superior in every way. The Girl with All the Gifts is plagued with so many flaws that I don't even know where to begin.
First of all the characterization is poorly done. We don't to get to know properly who they are and what they are about. The supposed main character for example remains the same throughout. In her case it kinda makes sense her being "a child hungry" and all but same goes for Helen Justineau. There wasn't a single time where I felt sympathy for any of them. This would not have been that much of an issue had the plot at least made us care about these characters. But here is where the film truly fails since there barely is one. And yes I am aware that they are trying to convince you that this is a thinking man's zombie film. But sorry to say that is a load of bullocks. George A. Romero's zombie films offered food for thought while at the same time delivering all kinds of horror goodness and spectacle. This film doesn't even come close to those. Yet it's infinitely more pretentious. I do have to remark that visually the film looks good and that it did a good job of showing us an apocalyptic world. But what good does that do if the film lacks any tension, suspense and thrills. Real shame too since it had potential to be all of that constantly. Especially since the film did start off with a lot of promise. Not that films always require these elements. I would have been perfectly content had the film at least offered some dramatic moments between Melanie (child hungry prodigy) and Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) because the film was banging on their special relationship right from the start. Only it never did something substantial with it. In fact the actions of Helen made no sense whatsoever. Background on her character would helped to make us understand why she acts like she does. Now of course I have deduced that she is supposed to have formed a bond with her precious prodigy and that she is one of the few who still views these child hungries as humans. And that she is desperately holding on to her own humanity. But we never see or hear her struggle for this. It's more like she seems to think she is the only one who is morally right and everyone else is not. It made me instantly dislike her. It is never smart to infuse such complexities if you can't be bothered to flesh out characters in equal manner. You need to challenge and confront the viewer as well. People aren't always good or always bad. Often we can be both and that is what makes us interesting and unpredictable.
It doesn't surprise me that director Colm McCarthy has only directed for television since it looks like he kept things simple and that he stuck to the script as it was written without adding anything of himself. The Girl with All the Gifts seems to be the result of someone going through the motions instead of someone being committed and being passionate about his work. Now I could be way off about him except that this film does lack heart and soul. Honestly I would not bother with this one since you will definitely be disappointed.