The Girl With All The Gifts is a Big Old Pile of Nihilist Garbage!

Monday , 13, March 2017 36 Comments

What the boss goan do to me when he sees I wrote another movie post.

The Girl With All The Gifts is crap. It’s worthless. It’s a big old pile of nihilist garbage. It’s a waste of your time and money, even if you get to see it for free. (See Opportunity Cost.)

It’s so awful, it makes me angry.

Now, I promised The-Powers-That-Be here at the blog that I absolutely would not write about a movie, especially so soon after the last movie I wrote about just last week.

Uhhh… sorry, boss? Really, this will be a good article, I promise. I’ll even try and make it relate to, like, books and stuff. (No promises.) Also, SPOILERS!

I like me some zombie flicks (and also books) (and also the video games). Just recently I’ve watched (in order) Jeruzalem, The Rezort, and The Girl With All The Zombie Infections.

(Also played through Dead Rising 4 and read Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series. Again. And watched a couple of other zombie movies while researching this post. Okay, I may legitimately have a problem here.)

The Rezort was a pretty standard zombie flick with one original idea: “What if, in addition to ripping off every zombie movie ever, we ALSO ripped off Jurassic Park?!” So, the Zombie War was won a decade ago, zombies only exist on one single island which is used as a hunting preserve for people to come shoot them some zeds, the zeds escape and people get ‘et. SPOILER ALERT: The obvious bad guys are the bad guys, obviously, because those sorts of people are always the bad guys. (If you played Dead Rising, you know what I mean.) Also, the movie is ultimately about lecturing you on politics.

How stirring is the movie? Just a couple of months after watching it, I couldn’t even remember exactly how it ended, so I had to rewatch the last couple of minutes on Netflix. Memorable!

Jeruzalem had a few original notions, including winged flying zombies because these are really the spirits of the dead and it’s Apocalypse time and the dead are rising from their graves. Unfortunately, it pulled a 28 Weeks Later because sequels (which may never happen), so it has a very downer ending.

Then there’s The Girl with All the Blood on Her Face Because She Eats People. I will be spoiling the hell out of this, so be forewarned.

But before I let myself off the chain, let’s let the “real” movie critics have their say: “A thoughtful apocalyptic subversion” “unconventional ending” “charts a new course for the genre by miring itself in questions with only difficult answers”.

When a bunch of smarmy, self-satisfied critics regale you with terms like “subversion”, “unconventional ending” and “questions with difficult answers”, you know what you’re going to get: rampant nihilism and moral inversion. And thus it is.

It’s the near future and the Zombie War was lost more than a decade ago. Small, isolated settlements surrounded by zombies are all that’s left.

Plus, The Last of Us is real. No, seriously. The cordyceps jumped species, and billions of people turned into zombies—excuse me, Hungries—because of fungus growing in their brain. (Albeit they look MUCH LESS COOL than Clickers, Bloaters, and Stalkers, and their mad chomping behavior is straight up stolen from the World War Z movie.)

There’s a bunch of little kids who—in a genuinely unsettling scene—are revealed to be Hungries themselves, despite looking and acting wholly normal most of the time. (This is a new trend you’ll see more of in the near future: lucid zombies.) The main character, Melanie, is one of these kid zombies, seemingly bright and friendly—just don’t get close to her, or it’s chomping time. The kids are being kept in restraints waiting to be experimented upon by the evil military because if the military grinds up their brains, they can make a cure for the fungus. (I TOLD you it was a The Last of Us ripoff.) Schoolteacher Helen (Gemma Arterton), responsible for educating the kiddie zombies, dotes on the little monster Melanie, and frequently breaks rules for her charge.

(Also, Glenn Close. I don’t get it, either. She’s definitely slumming it up in this waste of celluloid.)

“A walking, talking, mouth-covered-with-blood fungus cannibal? Surely she wouldn’t hurt a fly!”

Well, the zombies, excuse please, Hungries overrun the base (surprise!), Melanie gets loose and chomps a couple of soldiers, and Helen takes pity on her, because of course she does, and brings the walking, talking, mouth-covered-with-blood fungus cannibal along on their trek across zombie infested post-Apocalypse Great Britain. The military reluctantly accedes, because She’s The Cure.

They run into zombies, the usual things happen (go watch random scenes from any given zombie movie: they’ll probably fit right in), and they find a massive building covered with spore pods. Cordyceps is about to go airborne, which will mean the utter and total extinction of all of humanity. We’ll die out, and be replaced by lucid fungus cannibals.

The “unconventional ending” of the movie—the heartwarming conclusion to this tale of a little girl who’s actually a murderous monster who eats people—is she burns the pods and releases the spores, thus turning all remaining human beings into chomping, slavering, mindless cannibals. And the final scene, the scene of beauty and transcendence, has the schoolteacher teaching the lucid zombie kids from behind a glass window, thus turning the planet over to our inheritors.

And… SCENE!

Zombie movies (and novels and video games) are, as I wrote a few years back, a genre of defeatism and despair. The zombies are invariably portrayed as nearly invincible, while humans are almost always dysfunctional assholes. Every single stronghold invariably collapses under a wave of the undead, usually at the climax of the work, and everybody dies.

Even given that, The Girl With The Facemask Like Hannibal Lector lowers the bar significantly, killing off not a small group of survivors, but the entire human race. And to celebrate that fact? It’s hard to get more nihilistic than that. (The book of the same name, written by the movie’s screenwriter, is just as nihilistic, and just as adored by smug, arrogant po-mo critics.)

I hate downer endings, they’re not clever or brave, they’re pretentious crap. I also hate nihilistic works of art that preach the meaninglessness of human existence. The Girl With All The Gifts is both, and has won the top spot on my Worst Zombie Movies Ever list.

And I’ve seen Night of the Living Deb, so I know whereof I speak.


Jasyn Jones, better known as Daddy Warpig, is a host on the Geek Gab podcast, a regular on the Superversive SF livestreams, and blogs at Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery. Check him out on Twitter.

36 Comments
  • deuce says:

    Good one, Warpig!

    Terence Hanley is the proprieter of “Tellers of Weird Tales”, the best Weird Tales site on the Webz. He’s been looking at the history of zombies in pop culture and is doing an amazing job. He’s written about 20 posts on the subject in the last few months. All of them are worth reading, but this is just one of the standouts:

    http://tellersofweirdtales.blogspot.com/2017/03/all-you-zombies.html

  • NARoberts says:

    I think this movie won some of those awards or something, didn’t it? The Sundance ones perhaps?

    Anything that wins awards in the “highbrow” Hollywood scene I almost always automatically ignore.

    I guess you are right about downer endings. There isn’t any reason for them unless you are trying to send a message, and message fiction being what it is…Didn’t The Last of Us have a downer ending itself? I heard enough about it to lose interest in ever playing it, assuming it to be pretentious as well (and it won its own awards so there you go). I have heard that Naughty Dog have since championed progressive cultural-criticism so I guess I was right.

    I really, really like NieR though, and that game has an even darker ending. I have trouble figuring out whether I should like something like NieR or not, it is certainly message fiction of some sort, but I don’t really know what the message is. I can’t figure out the author’s politics, though I THINK he is probably left-wing (it might be my pessimism speaking, or the mere fact that he works in entertainment), he is undoubtedly pretentious. But then again, he is Japanese, so I think he could be left without being an SJW, and pretentious in that charmingly earnest, very-deep-obvious-thing way that anime often deals in. After a week binging on the sequel I still don’t know whether I should like his work as much as I do.

    By the way, while we are talking about the bad movies, what movies do the folks here actually like? My favorite film is he 1960’s True Grit with John Wayne (not the new one, not the book, both are QUITE the opposite of superversive). Thoughts?

    • Andy says:

      I don’t want to play The Last of Us because the girl looks like Ellen Page and I can’t stand Ellen Page.

      I don’t mind down endings as long they make sense for the story. Horror movies today are so fixated on down endings that most of them are unintentionally hilarious (check out The Descent 2!), sort of the inverse of classic MGM movies that required happy endings no matter what.

    • Anthony says:

      Are you kidding? Both the new one and the book are brilliant, not superversive in the strictest sense but with an ironclad moral core and a strong denunciation of feminism.

      The new movie is superior in every way. It’s a tragedy, but that’s not because it’s nihilistic. It’s because actions have consequences.

      • NARoberts says:

        I didn’t say the book and new film were lacking in quality; I didn’t say they were nihilistic. I just said they weren’t superversive. The old film was the most superversive film I can think of, however. I prefer the uplifting interpretation of the story over the tragic.

        I happen to not like the other two very much, but that is only my taste.

        The new movie may have better sets, bigger budget, arguably better performances (not always), but I can’t find the heart in a cast of characters who I do not like, rather than the flawed but heroic trio of the original.

        But that is only my taste.

        • Anthony says:

          The characters in the original book and new movie were very heroic; LeBoeuf is driven by a sense of honor. Cogburn claims he’s just in it for the money, but he goes back and risks his life for Mattie, and then takes on four of the villains at once in one of the most famous shootouts in the history of the western. When he is offered his money, he never takes it.

          Mattie herself is driven by vengeance, but the vengeance is rooted in a biblical sense of justice and righteousness.

          The book and new movie are not superversive in the strictest sense – noumenal superversive is the term Mrs. Wright has coined – but they are certainly superversive in the sense of having a strong, biblical sense of morality and firm understanding of the difference between a hero and a villain. In that sense – we’ll call it simple superversive – “True Grit” is superversive in a way hardly any other modern movie can lay claim to.

          The original movie simply didn’t have the guts to give its characters the endings they had earned (note, on that score, that LeBouef actually survives – or at least, is not confirmed dead – in the book and new movie, and is the most likely to have found success later in life. Justice exists in the Old Testament sense of the word in “True Grit”).

        • Anthony says:

          My thesis more simply:

          A cop-out happy ending is still a cop-out.

          • NARoberts says:

            I did not find the ending a cop out; it isn’t a happy ending, it’s a bittersweet ending. But there was a sense of comradeship to the original that I did not find in the other versions.

            I originally felt the others to be rather cynical, but you are defending them, and the CH folks are the best judges of what is important in a story that I am aware of, so I must just be mistaken (I read the book and watched the film once each a number of years ago).

            But as I said before, I judge based on my taste, and my taste says the old film is my favorite film of all time. It had the elements that made it meaningful TO ME. Heart, charm, adventure, great music, and a wistful and bittersweet ending, among other things. A special cocktail of the elements that made it special to me.

            I will take the joyful adventure over the tale with the harsh Old Testament sensibility.

          • NARoberts says:

            To clarify:

            Your argument seems to be that the other versions ARE superversive, which I won’t argue with, since you seem to know them better than I.

            My argument is that I didn’t like them.

          • Anthony says:

            Fair enough. Taste is taste. The old movie is not a bad one, to be clear. I liked it when I watched it. I just find the new one and book to be better.

            Also, that movie singlehandedly turned Hailee Steinfeld into one of my favorite female actors. She steals the show in a movie with Jeff Bridges!

          • NARoberts says:

            She seems to keep popping up in other western movies from the past few years. She is also a singer, I think?

  • Andy says:

    I just stick to Romero’s movies, which are pretty much endlessly ripped off and Romero probably should have sued someone ages ago, and Shaun of the Dead, which did a good job of sending them up or riffing on the concept before it got run into the ground.

  • JonM says:

    It’s an allegory for immigration, isn’t it?

    “Yeah, we know these hordes of new kinds of people desire only your destruction, but given how evil you are for now wanting to be destroyed, we all know you deserve destruction.”

  • Alex says:

    The only Zombie thing I’ve really been enjoying has been iZombie, and I’m perpetually terrified of the moment that it turns to unwatchable crap like the rest of DCs shows on the CW.

    As long as they can keep the Forever Knight meets Crossing Jordan thing they’ve had working, I think it’ll hold, but the end of season 2’s “everything is about to change” cliffhanger leaves me worried!

    • Nate Winchester says:

      Yes! I was hoping someone would bring up iZombie. It constantly surprises me how good it is and the complexity they play with.

      I have some hope for S3. One thing about iZombie is that the show runners have been very faithful to the logical consequences of their world-building. As I pointed out in my review of the finale, a nation of zombies “as is” right now could not last, it would be nuked by EVERYBODY. So something is up with the plans.

      But if you want to talk more about it, I’ve got a whole review section, feel free to come by and chat: https://natewinchester.wordpress.com/category/izombie/

      • Alex says:

        To me, the biggest reasons iZombie succeeds where the other DC shows fail miserably is that they have good writers and likable character actors. Everyone who is on the screen is fun to watch when they’re on the screen. Even the bit part villains. One of my favorite moments in the series is when the Blaine’s henchmen are bluegrass brains and playing the washboard. It’s only a couple seconds, but it’s beautiful character development. Or like when Ravi jokes about Gandhi costing “us the crown jewel of our empire. Get it? I’m British!”

  • Gaiseric says:

    I actually think the Night of the Living Dead style zombies is overdone. I’d prefer to go back to the Serpent and the Rainbow actual voodoo-style zombies next time I see a zombie movie. I doubt anyone will do it, though—it’s probably “culturally insensitive” to primitive, savage Haitian superstitions or something. Plus, there’s this whole zombies as metaphor for American society thing that Hollywood loves too much.

  • Humans we can cure you says:

    Sounds like a variation of I Am Legend, actually.

  • Scott Cole says:

    Well, at least you linked to Infogalactic and not Wikipedia!!!

  • B&N says:

    “I also hate nihilistic works of art that preach the meaninglessness of animal existence.”

    I admit that’s my least favorite part of Animal Farm as well. Sometimes Ratman’s Notebooks is the only corrective.

  • Rawle Nyanzi says:

    Zombie movies (and novels and video games) are, as I wrote a few years back, a genre of defeatism and despair.

    This is why I abhor not only the zombie genre, but post-apocalyptic fiction in general.

    • Jesse Lucas says:

      Le Guin expressed that thought well:
      Recent science fiction, for instance, is full of edifying and hideous pictures of terrible futures—overpopulated worlds where people eat each other in the form of green cookies; postholocaust mutants behaving in approved Social Darwinist fashion; nine billion people dying various awful deaths by pollution at the rate of a billion per chapter, and so on. I have done this myself; I plead guilty. And I feel guilty. Because none of this involves real thought or real commitment. The death of civilization, the death of a species, is used the way the death of an individual is used in murder mysteries—to provide the readers a cheap thrill. The writer holds up a picture of overpopulation, or universal pollution, or atomic war, and everybody say Ugh! Agh! Yecchh! That is a “gut reaction,” a perfectly sincere one. But it is not an act of intelligence and it is not a moral act.

      That’s why I can approve of dystopiae if they are shown to be decaying, by which I mean people are shown to be doing what they do and turning hell into heaven, reestablishing civilization, recovering old knowledge, and having a grand old time. Technically I suppose that’s pioneer fiction anyway.

      • Jesse Lucas says:

        Whoah! That last paragraph was totally meant to have an in front of it. Le Guin didn’t say “That’s why I can approve,” I did. Sorry about that.

        Hey Jeffro, can we get 2003-era Invision Board formatting in here? Also my comment box occasionally scrolls all the way down past any text while the scroll bar disappears, no idea if that’s just me.

        And Warpig, are you gonna be tackling KONG SKULL ISLAND for us any time soon?

    • Anthony says:

      Read Nick Cole’s Wasteland Saga and Walter M. Miller’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz”, then get back to me on that one.

      For that matter, Nick Cole also has a couple of pretty great zombie books. You can say that making the typically defeatist and turning it superversive is sort of his thing.

    • keith says:

      I cannot help but wander if, at least today, commercial aspect is to blame for that.

      You cannot have ending where civilisation is being rebuilt or where threat is defeated because your zombie/postapocalyptic movie/graphic novel/novel/video game needs its sequels, endless supply of them if possible. You CAN have ending where the settlement or band of characters that were the focus or were presented as sole survivors are slaughtered, because then in the sequel you can just pull out another group that exists on other side of continent.

  • bob k. mando says:

    you think it’s a downer ending because of your false consciousness, Comrade.

    this movie is about the inevitable victory of the Proletariat against the reactionary forces of the Bourgeois and is uplifting in every way.

  • Jackson says:

    Watch for the already developing sequel;
    The TRUMP*Make America Great*..again

  • Cuba says:

    I enjoyed the movie. It was a really good take on the zombie aspect. Acting was up to par.. If you like zombies movies I recommend it for you. I also recommend “Maggie” I don’t know why people like “Daddy Warpig” have so much hate towards independent films which are done well.

    • No one is saying anything about the quality of the production.

      The issue is that the humans trying to save the remnants of humanity are cast as the villains, while the zombies that destroy the human race are cast as victims deserving of sympathy?

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