Ever since the Harry Potter series of films ignited back in 2001, studios have been seeking to replicate that success in the young-adult market. While we’ve seen Twilight and The Hunger Games launch popular franchises, we’ve also witnessed a number of other attempts fall short, to the point that the Divergent series is contemplating a move to the friendlier confines of television to finish up its run and launch a new small-screen show.
Hollywood has not given up on the young-adult market, of course. Next year we’ll see The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (February 17), for example, and other titles may pop up in theaters as well. What about movies that play with the formula, featuring, for example, a young-adult heroine surrounded by adults who range from friendly to downright hostile?
For that, we need only turn to The Girl With All the Gifts, an upcoming suspense thriller revolving around a young woman named Melanie (newcomer Sennia Nanua). As the story begins, Melanie awakens on a metal bed in a bare room. Armed guards then enter, and as one of them points a weapon at the young woman, she is muzzled and shackled into a wheelchair. Melanie remains polite and friendly as she is wheeled into a hallway, where she joins a flood of other children, similarly restrained.
What is happening? More importantly, why? Watch the trailer below to get a glimpse of the action.
As the framework of the story is filled in, those questions are answered, but there are other questions raised that drive the movie forward. It’s an exciting experience, filled with suspense and sometimes terror that consistently undermines expectations. It also features terrific performances, not only by young Ms. Nanua, but also veterans such as Gemma Arterton as a sympathetic teacher, Paddy Considine as a tough military officer, Fisayo Akinade as another, less experienced soldier and Glenn Close as a forceful military scientist who is trying to save the human race.
Colm McCarthy directed; he made the above-average horror movie Outcast several years ago and since then has been busy helming British television shows. It’s based on a novel by M.R. Carey (aka Mike Carey), a comic book veteran who also wrote the excellent screenplay.
The Girl With All the Gifts recently opened in U.K. theaters and was a stand-out at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas last week. Keep an eye out for it; it’s slated for release in U.S. theaters next year.