‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ is a British zombie apocalypse movie that does not rely on bloodbaths and mindless action sequences to hook viewers. Instead, it is one of the smarter pieces of zombie fiction out there. It ought to be noted that the word “zombie” is not used in the entire film or the eponymous book that it is based on. The cannibalistic flesh-eaters are called “hungries” and resemble zombies in almost every manner except for the fact that they move fast.
‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ is directed by Colm McCarthy, who is known for helming various BBC dramas. He even directed the second season of ‘Peaky Blinders’ and ‘Black Museum,’ an episode of ‘Black Mirror.’
The Girl With All The Gifts Plot Summary
‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ is set in a dystopian future due to a fungal pandemic that causes infected humans to turn into zombie-like creatures known as “hungries.” Few humans remain. London, for instance, has been completely overrun by zombies.
In a military base, second-generation hungries are kept in captivity. These second-gen zombies are still kids and haven’t lost their mental abilities, unlike “normal” or first-gen zombies. The military base gets attacked and overtaken by zombies. A second-gen zombie named Melanie, her teacher, a medical researcher, and a couple of soldiers manage to escape. They go to London looking for food.
At the end of the movie, Melanie returns to the mobile laboratory. She tells the teacher, Helen, that she lit the “mother tree” on fire. In the last scene, Melanie makes the other second-gen zombie kids sit outside the mobile lab. Helen conducts a lecture from inside the mobile lab. At this point, viewers might have had tons of questions, including the meaning of the ending. We have attempted to answer most of them.
Who is Melanie?
Melanie is a second-generation hungry. Her mother had been infected when she was in her womb. The most disturbing thing about the second-generation hungries is that they burrowed out of their mother’s womb, eating them (their mothers) from the inside. Unlike first-generation hungries, second-generation hungries haven’t lost their mental abilities. They can still think and interact with uninfected humans normally. However, they do get pangs of “hunger,” especially when they can smell humans in a close distance. When they get these pangs, the “hunger” overtakes them, and they start to act like an uncontrollable zombie until their hunger is satiated.
The medical researcher, Dr. Caroline, claims to have a vaccine for the infection. However, to make it, she would need to dissect a second-generation hungry. If the vaccine needs to be made, the second-generation hungry to be dissected would have to die. Hence, dissecting Melanie is the best chance for Dr. Caroline to develop the vaccine in the mobile lab.
What is the Giant Hungry Tree/ “Mother Tree”?
Once a human is infected, he/she turns into a zombie-like creature known as a hungry. However, sometime after infection, in a future stage of the disease, the infected creature/hungry starts to “sprout.” They start to turn into a tree-like creature. Later, they enter a sexual stage whereby multiple hungries sprout and combine to form one structure.
The union of multiple hungries leads to the formation of multiple pods containing fungal spores. Remember that this is the sexual stage of the pathogen/fungus and this is how it reproduces. However, the pods are quite sturdy and only open upon coming in contact with humidity or heat. If the pods open, human civilization will end as the pathogen will become airborne. Humans would catch it just by breathing. The group finds a giant union of hungries. This article refers to it as the “mother three,” but that is not the official description used in the movie. But why does Melanie light it on fire?
At first, Melanie agrees to sacrifice her life for the vaccine. However, she then realizes that she does not want to end her life for a world of humans. She decides to make a world for her kind. When she sets the mother tree on fire, millions of spores are released all over the planet. The remaining humans would be turned into zombies without being bitten or attacked. They might turn into second-generation zombies, being able to retain their mental ability, but that is not revealed in the movie. Melanie realizes that a world with hungries might not be so bad.
This could also be a commentary on the way humans interact with nature. Dr. Caroline tells Melanie that the pathogen is symbiotic in second-generation zombies. Moreover, from the way that the pathogen acts in the mature phases, one can see that it is somewhat symbiotic as well, merging into nature. Humans, on the other hand, have exploited nature, always seeking dominance selfishly.
Melanie has witnessed that first-hand. At the beginning of the movie, she is almost treated like a caged animal in captivity. On an individual level, Melanie realizes that she does not want to continue being treated that way. Hence, she chooses to make the world for her kind.
Ending Explained: Why Does Melanie Let Helen Live?
Well, speaking strictly from Melanie’s point of view, Helen was the only human being who was nice to her. She was the only human being who treated her equally and not as a creature to be chained or experimented on.
However, speaking from a symbolic point of view, the ending signifies how the second-generation hungries could be “civilized” with education. The second-generation hungries that Melanie finds in London are feral in nature because they have never been educated. It is evident that they can still think, though.
The group acts ferally because they do not know any other way. Interestingly, Melanie is able to use that against them by defeating the alpha leader of the pack. That is the reason she is able to make them sit in front of the mobile lab. Melanie loves Helen’s lectures, and that is reason enough for her to make the hungries take the classes with her. However, the ending also signifies how education would have an incomparable impact on the future hungry society that will form.
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