It’s probably best arriving into The Girl knowing nothing at all about what’s going on. Cut yourself off from all media, wear a blindfold, and forget the entire English language. Done it? Liar, you’re still reading this.
The opening half hour will be an intriguing journey of discovery. Explain yourselves, weird children, you’ll say. Is that Glenn Close, you’ll ask? If you’re curious, the film is pretty good overall, with really solid world building, and a cool novel spin on the thing that it’s about. That thing will be mentioned in the next paragraph.
Fast zombies, specifically.
Straight up 28 Days Later “they’re not really zombies, they’re infected” fast zombies, even more specifically.
OK I can’t really be any more specific than that.
I’ve seen half vampires (Blade), half werewolves (every werewolf if you think about it), half mummies (Rupert Murdoch) and half various other monsters, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a half zombie before. The kid in this, Melanie, (in addition to a dozen or so other kids that we don’t care about) is a tiny zombie with normal higher brain function and your standard taste for human flesh. Once we’re set up, narrative wise, she’s on the run with her teacher Gemma Arterton, war bastard Paddy Considine and unfeeling scientist Glenn Close.
I said fast zombies above, a few times, and also at the beginning of this sentence, but they’re almost (highly dangerous) set dressing for the central moral dilemma: can we cut up a normal-seeming small child to produce a cure for worldwide fungus zombies? You can probably guess which sides the teacher and scientist represent. It seems like you should be able to justify it, but Melanie is pretty likeable, and I expect the question gets murkier if you have a child. Even more so if you are a child.
It’s cool as well that the whole thing is set years after the outbreak actually happened, there’s neat little touches like the “blocker” gel that makes normal humans invisible to the zombs, and the trance-like stasis that the zombies go into since all their prey has long since vanished. Everyone seems to have agreed to call them “hungries” though, so they can’t all be winners. There’s a few quality gore effects, and they’ve done a really decent job with what I assume is a low budget. Though, if I’m assuming they have a low budget, does that mean that they haven’t done that good a job after all? They could have done a mediocre job with a huge budget I guess.
There’s other interesting ideas that you only get with a late-stage setting, like what happens next with the original fungal infection, but there’s a whole plot with other Melanie-like children that comes up late in the game and takes up a decent amount of time and just didn’t land for me at all. It picks up its visa and crosses the border into Just a Bit Silly, Really.
I was invested enough in the world though, and it made its way on down to a really beautiful looking, perfect ending, but then unfortunately went on for another two or three minutes. Stupid zombie children.