The Girl with all the Gifts is an atypical zombie apocalpyse set 10 years after the fall of human civilization to a zombifying fungus that wraps itself around the human brain.
We are introduced to a seriously cute young girl, Melanie who is part of a cohort of children in a subterranean bunker. What strikes you immediately is the fear and care with which the soldiers treat these children. They are transported by teams of two soldiers, one of whom has his or her gun pointed squarely at the child. These children are second generation zombies, who contracted the infection in utero and ate their way out of the womb. Without a human-scent blocking ointment, these seemingly innocent kids, triggered by the human scent, turn to insatiable zombies.
A young woman, Helen is the children's favorite teacher and Melanie is her favorite student.
Above ground, the base is surrounded by mindless zombies who claw incessantly at the fence. The zombies finally break through just as a Dr. Caldwell is looking to synthesize Melanie's spinal fluid to create a possible vaccine. In the chaos, Melanie and Helen save each other's lives and in turn are saved by the base commander in a truck and Dr. Caldwell and three other soldiers. They escape the overrun base with the aim of getting to the main base in London.
Along the way, the lose a couple of soldiers but eventually arrive in London and find a medical mobile unit in which they can survive indefinitely. They also then realize that the fungus causes the zombies to sprout and produce pods which when opened will spread the infection and no one would be safe any longer.
In the London wasteland, we discover other kids similar to Melanie who lure a soldier away to kill him. The group goes out to find him but it is too late.
A dying Dr. Caldwell, tries to incapacitate the group upon their return and attempts to create her vaccine but Melanie is too smart for her and prevents her. Melanie then sets fire to the vine outgrowths with the pods which release the spores into the atmosphere and solidify the fungus' domination over the earth. With everyone dead except Helen, she is stuck in the mobile unit for life, Melanie then rounds up the wild kids and other kids from the base and a distraught Helen continues teaching them from inside the mobile unit.
I found the film to be a nice British take on a zombie apocalypse. I tried to compare it with I am Legend. I am Legend is typically American--everything builds up to a climactic scene and we are left with hope, uncertain hope, but still hope. The Girl with all the Gifts is more philosophical in its orientation.
First, is the issue of anthropocentrism. Does the earth belong to humans? Are we the point of all existence? This film makes the point, no. We are simply a moment of earth's history and without right of perpetual dominance. At the end of the film, it is the time of the fungus. There is hope to be sure in that you have a whole community of kids who are human-fungus symbiotes and presumably will establish a human community immune to further infection. But humanity as such is done. The other striking thing is the irony of the reversal. The children were the one's in restraints at the start and the teacher was the free one. At the end, Helen is restrained for life, while the children are free.
I really liked the film. I liked it grittiness. It's gory. A ton of convenient things happen to move the plot along but c'est la vie. It's very well acted.