Directed By: Colm McCarthy
Written By: Mike Carey (Based on His own Novel)
Cinematography By: Simon Dennis
Editor: Matthew Cannings
Cast: Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Dominique Tipper, Fasiyo Akinade, Anamaria Marinca, Anthony Welsh
In a dystopian near future, humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious fungal disease. The afflicted are robbed of all free will and turned into flesh-eating ‘hungries’. Humankind’s only hope is a small group of hybrid children who crave human flesh but retain the ability to think and feel. The children go to school at an army base in rural Britain, where they’re subjected to cruel experiments by Dr. Caroline Caldwell. School teacher Helen Justineau grows particularly close to an exceptional girl named Melanie, thus forming a special bond. But when the base is invaded, the trio escape with the assistance of Sgt. Eddie Parks and embark on a perilous journey of survival, during which Melanie must come to terms with who she is.
This feels like a bigger budgeted action oriented episode of the television show THE OUTER LIMITS. The main reason why is that this film tires to go more the science fiction route rather than just plain old horror or a typical zombie film. As usual with these types of films the backbone is more on thrills than action, but it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to action sequences either.
What helps keep the film vital and alive is the constant mixture of innocence with terror and horror. Something most movies mix in for a scene or two. Here it lasts he whole movie. Especially with the character who might look to be the most innocent being the most dangerous and brave. It makes the film continuously shocking even at times when you think you have gotten used to the films universe. As the film has a continuous viciousness but also heart. What really keeps you on edge is that the film is so violent and involves kids in more than half of these scenes. The film has no limits and is not afraid to go wild. But shows restraint enough not to overindulge in the gore and violence. Showing it just to show. There is more of a creative decision and reason behind it other than skit style at times. As the film relies more on story and characters. Glenn Close being in this film also helps lend it a bit of class and polish. Though usually there are highly respected actors in genre films. Her inclusion in the cast shows a certain strength of script and faith in the story. As the film isn’t large enough in scope to have her just be a big name to add it for her to chalk it up to a paycheck job.
In the last act the film seems to get predictable but then has a shocking reversal from a character that actually feels natural and not just needed to be a convenience to the script. Yet making no sense as a character decision.
Even though the girl of the title is vicious when provoked and hungry. She is still innocent and curious in the ways of the world. As a child of her age should be in fact she is more polite and mannered. Which may be a result of trying to please her captors. As she has been locked up and a prisoner since before she can even remember. She can’t control herself though can compose herself after feeding her addiction. She is impressively played by Sennia Nanua in a mannered debut performance.
Though even I am burnt out on zombies. This film takes the creatures and genre and puts it’s own spin and ideas into the mix. That actually make it original and captivating. It also doesn’t seem as far-fetched as the premise might sound on paper. You could call it contained more than small scale. As small scale makes it seem smaller and more minor.
The action sequence when the warehouse is under attack is a great action set piece that keeps moving to show you the total destruction of the base. Keeping the survivors moving amongst the mayhem. So that you get a grand view.
All the zombies represent a kind of innocence. As most seem to be roles where we have been taught over our lifetimes to protect and never attack. So protecting yourself against and slaughtering them adds a new element that could be seen as grotesque and shocking. That allows the film to challenge conventional thinking and challenge the audience to a degree. So watching soldiers cower and fear when it comes to children is different and offers a new spin.
Some of the so called zombies are not entirely full zombies and only become that way when they smell new flesh. It’s like an addiction they can’t help themselves and no matter what previous relationship or feelings you have. They will still attack.
It offers a more realistic reason for the spread of the zombie disease more as a result of a fungus and answers questions as to what zombies do when humans aren’t around basically keep doing the same actions mindlessly.
The monsters gets here don’t feel so much supernatural but scavengers who can’t help themselves. You have an innocent monster of sorts at the center of the story.
A horror story where the African Americans aren’t the first to die and in fact one of the main characters is African American.
It’s also the rare horror film or science-fiction where the female characters aren’t sexual or really defined by their sexuality. This is more sci-fi as the film deals more with humanity and emotions it still offers it’s fair share of action and scares rather than horror.
The film tries to offer hope where there is a little to be found and finally some in a wasteland. This is more of a young adult film at heart. It shows it’s horrors but mostly deals with children though I am sure some parents wouldn’t want to show their children it.
The film is a survival tale that feels familiar In Story, but in execution offers excitement and thrills. Even if keeping the production small. it ends up being more intimate and small scale whole managing to create a world.