The zombie genre has always held a special place in the hearts of horror fans, and for a long time it lived in a niche of its own, regularly dismissed by mainstream audiences as low-end splatter film. What people didn’t initially understand were the subtexts of these films and the strong political statements hidden beneath the zombie apparat. However, over the past few years, pop culture has definitively adopted zombies, but few know how the undead genre came to be in the first place.
George A. Romero, one of horrors’ most important filmmakers, directed Night of the Living Dead in 1968 (due to a copyright snafu, the film is now public domain and you can watch it in full here) and in doing so created a new kind of horror, a visceral one that scared the shit out of audiences everywhere. Even if Romero wasn’t trying to make a political statement by casting a black actor, it was still interpreted as one with audiences, and the director became known for making politically charged movies.
He then went on to direct some other great movies such as Martin and Monkey Shines, but the zombie genre always called him back for the simple reason that producers were more than willing to finance his films as long as they had zombies in them. He then directed the masterpiece Dawn of the Dead (which was later remade by Zack Snyder), Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead and many more zombie flicks.
The zombie trend then died (pun intended) down for some time, but two British films managed to make them unexpectedly relevant again: the hilarious Shaun of the Dead and Danny Boyle’s sublime 28 Days Later. Around that same time, Robert Kirkman started releasing The Walking Dead comic book series. While it is vastly superior to the show, it signaled the arrival of what Romero described as “a soap-opera with a zombie occasionally,” a serious watering-down of the source material.
Needless to say, it’s very refreshing to see a film like The Girl with All the Gifts being released in theaters, as it seems to reconnect with all the things we love about the zombie lane. An adaptation of M.R. Carey’s bestselling book, the film follows Melanie, a little zombie girl who manages to retain her human consciousness. Following the zombie apocalypse, she and other children are detained on an army base. Things inevitably go awry, and Melanie and a group of other survivors escape and embark on a “quest” to save the human race.
Directed by Colm McCarthy (known for episodes of Sherlock and Peaky Blinders) and starring Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, the awesome Paddy Considine and newcomer Sennia Nanua, early reviews suggest that The Girl with All the Gifts is a respectful and emotional take on the zombie genre. If it comes anywhere close to the brilliance of the book, we are in for a harrowing experience. Hopefully, the days of The Walking Dead mania are almost behind us, and let’s hope The Girl with All the Gifts puts the first nail in the show’s coffin when it releases.
If, like us, you love zombies, you won’t have to wait much longer as the film will hit DirecTV on January 26 and select theaters on February 24.
Watch The Girl with All the Gifts trailer here.