Humanity is on the brink of doom and a young girl might hold the key to its survival…
British author M.R. Carey’s 2014 book comes to the big screen in an impressive production that manages to be more than just another zombie movie.
It is a zombie movie though, despite the slightly alternative setup, and you’ll find some familiar tropes and scenes here. But it’s all delivered with rare punch, more reminiscent of the likes of 28 Days Later than some of the more glossy efforts in recent years.
It’s also a tad more violent than I was expecting- the trailers give it almost the feeling of a Young Adult film but this is definitely not suited for young eyes and a couple of people excused themselves from my screening.
So the gore and grue is all present and accounted for, along with shrieking hordes and a plague taking over the human race, so what makes this different? Well there’s the focus on human characters who are more than mere potential victims and the unusual angle of a child’s perspective.
TV director Colm McCarthy (Peaky Blinders, Ripper Street) does a good job of wrangling his characters, keeping them to the fore despite the nastiness going on all around. And he’s helped by some top notch performers giving it their all, including a marvellous turn from Glenn Close and a perfectly pitched Paddy Considine, who brings some levity and just as much fierce commitment to an important part.
Then there’s young Sennia Nanua as the Girl, Melanie. She has the immensely complicated job of keeping the audience on her side while also dealing with the violence and emotion of the role and proves herself more than equal to the challenge. You may even have some feels.
Carey adapts the script as well and fills the frame with enough surprises to offset the familiarity of another undead apocalypse, particularly as the end game approaches. The finale itself feels a bit abrupt but also all but inevitable. I’ll leave it to you to decide if its satisfying.
Technical credits are remarkable given the £4 budget (other studios, take note) with good use of practical effects and CG augments where necessary. Some squib hits are a little poor but the large scale final sequence manages to conjure up some impressive images.
A new-ish take on a familiar subgenre, worth a look for fans and newcomers alike, if they don’t mind a little gore.