McCarthy more often seems to apply a generic style to his substance, rather than actually use a stylistic choice to help suggest or demonstrate something about his story and characters.
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What really separates The Girl With All the Gifts from the genre pack, however, is its moral intelligence, clever thematic consistency (drawing on the Greek myth of Pandora’s box) and emotional heft, the latter component rooted in the truly captivating breakout performance of young Nanua.
The Girl With All the Gifts really does offer up a fleshed-out world rich with eerie implications, saving the biggest one for the memorable finale.
Without the narrative or formal conviction to pull off the clichés rampant throughout, it sadly seems stuck between two worlds.
The best zombie-ish apocalypse in years. Sennia Nanua is a major discovery, but it’s the dense social commentary and moral dilemmas that will haunt you.
Director McCarthy does little visually that would generate a sense of fear in any viewer, and there’s nothing that will generate so much as a startled jump.
The movie is a coming-of-age story, but whose age is coming? That's the profound question we're left with, in a stellar adaptation that balances gore with black humor, ethical quandary, hope and—yes—plenty of brains.
The Girl With All the Gifts is full of surprises. It keeps shifting before our eyes, from atmospheric horror to intense survival thriller to thoughtful contemplation of humanity’s place in our planet’s food chain.
There are substantial talents involved in this film, but it doesn’t come together.
The film ends exactly one scene too late, lessening the brutal statement its ending might have made. But these really aren’t deal-breakers in a crisp bullseye of a debut feature which has guts and brains to spare.