A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Girl with All the Gifts is a post-apocalyptic zombie movie based on a novel by Mike Carey.
Expect lots of gory horror violence, with shooting, attacking/fighting, spurting blood, bloody wounds, hitting with blunt objects, etc. Children are infected (they're dangerous zombies), and some of the violence is directed toward them. A child zombie eats worms, a cat, a bird, and humans, with lots of blood shown. Language is also strong, with several uses of "f--k" or "f--king," as well as "s--t." A man looks through an "adult magazine" in a store, though nothing is shown; a bottle containing an alcoholic beverage is drunk and shared. Zombie movies may be a dime a dozen these days, but this one at least tinkers with some fresh ideas and themes.
What's the story?
In THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, the zombie apocalypse has come, the result of a kind of fungal infection, and scientist Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) is confident she can find a cure. This is partly because certain infected children can still think and operate as humans, even though they hunger for flesh and blood. Young Melanie (Sennia Nanua) seems to be the smartest and most promising of these kids; certainly her teacher, Helen (Gemma Arterton), thinks so. When their compound is breached and overrun by zombies (called "hungries"), they escape, accompanied by Sgt. Parks (Paddy Considine) and soldier Kieran (Fisayo Akinade), seeking safety and shelter. Unfortunately, Melanie discovers that the still-hoped-for cure will come at the cost of her life.
Is it any good?
There's no shortage of zombie movies out there, but this one, based on a novel by Mike Carey, at least tinkers with some fresh ideas. And, like the best zombie movies, its strengths are based on human themes. In The Girl with All the Gifts, director Colm McCarthy (a veteran of TV's Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Peaky Blinders) conjures up strong visuals, from the miserable, prison-like interiors that begin the film, to the lush, green, overgrown city streets in the second half, with "hungries" lurking everywhere.
Melanie is the key; even as she's forced to wear a plastic mask or satisfies her hunger with a stray cat, dribbling blood down her front, she's polite and wise in dealing with the adults. The movie asks whether she's a monster -- or the future? Which group should be sacrificed so that the other can live? It's not an easy question. Though the movie frequently stoops to bursts of all-too-ordinary horror violence, it's still satisfyingly focused on its concept of progress, both constructive and destructive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? How does it compare to other zombie movies you may have seen?
What's the appeal of zombie movies?
Melanie is a very strong, resourceful girl, even though she's a "hungry" (a.k.a. zombie). Is she an appealing character? Is she someone you'd want to be like or be friends with? Do you agree with her final choice? Was she doing the right thing? Who benefits, and who loses? How?
- In theaters: February 24, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: April 25, 2017
- Cast: Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Sennia Nanua
- Director: Colm McCarthy
- Studio: Saban Films
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violence/bloody images, and for language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.