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.)
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.
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.