A Girly Double Bill

Still catching up with 2016, this time in the company of some lovely girls...

The Girl with all the Gifts (Colm McCarthy, 2016), adapted by Mike Carey from his own best-selling novel, is another zombie apocalypse film. But wait! Don't run away screaming - this actually has risked bringing some brains to the table. Here, the zombies are created by a parasitic fungal infection which turns them into flesh-eating 'Hungries', whilst deep in a military bunker surviving humans attempt to find a cure by experimenting on children who exhibit partial immunity to the infection. When the bunker is breached, no-nonsense soldier (Paddy Considine), sympathetic teacher (Gemma Arterton) and committed scientist (Glenn Close) end up forming an uneasy alliance with the titular girl (newcomer Sennia Nenua, more than holding her own against her co-stars) as they try to get to safety. Comparisons with 28 Days Later are inevitable, but this is lighter on the action, preferring instead to blend in a more cerebral Day of the Triffids vibe and a bit of commentary on humanity and evolution which gives it a distinct identity. It doesn't really have any big scares, but the performances are good and there's impressive production values given its small budget. Add in an eerie score from Cristobal Tapia de Veer and we have an effective little horror whose brains haven't got entirely eaten.

In contrast, The Girl on the Train (Tate Taylor, 2016) also adapted from a best-selling novel, is a rather brain-dead affair. This time, Emily Blunt is the titular girl, a voyeuristic train commuter who might be a key witness in a murder. Trouble is, she's also a raging alcoholic and can't remember what happened, or if she herself was involved. The set up is fine, but it soon gets derailed by Taylor's inability to capture the fractured timelines and differing perspectives from the book, meaning the various reveals can be seen coming down the tracks a mile off. That said, although I only watched it last night, this morning I only have a few vague and muddled memories of Blunt being quite good, and some gratuitous nudity (in the film, not me personally). Everything else is forgotten. And I wasn't even drinking.

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