Film Review: The Girl With All the Gifts


I read the novel The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey about two years ago now and it’s definitely a book that has stuck with me. Excellent writing, lots of tension, great characters, and a unique twist on the zombie genre. If you’ve followed my blog for a while now, you know I love all things zombie, so to find such a well-written addition to the genre was great.

Understandably, I had high expectations for the film adaptation, especially after seeing some glowing reviews from the likes of Empire.  Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed!

I dragged my boyfriend along to see the film and, strangely, we had an entire screen to ourselves. This was good in the sense that no one would be talking or texting, but bad in the sense that when Mark left to go to the loo, I was sat in a big screen watching a zombie movie all by myself with surround sound. Needless to say, it was creepy.

Anyway, onto the film itself:


The film itself is very, very true to the book. A couple of scenes were dropped, along with the concept of the “Junkers”, but the vast majority of the major plot points are pretty much identical, which was amazing.

For those of you who don’t know, The Girl With All the Gifts tells the story of Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a young girl kept in an army base along with other children. Each day, she is strapped into a wheelchair by guards who treat her like she’s dangerous and taken to a classroom for lessons from the kind Miss Justineau (Gemma Arteton). That’s when we discover that, outside the army base, the world has been ravaged by a zombie virus, specifically a fungal virus that turns people into “Hungries”. Melanie and her fellow kids in the classroom are Hungries, but they’re different. They aren’t mindless and feral, but instead act like any other average human child. I won’t say why, but be prepared for a very unique zombie story.

And then, one day, it all goes wrong and the army base must be evacuated. Only a handful escape, including Melanie, Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks (Paddy Considine), Dr Caldwell (Glenn Close) and a couple of soldiers. Will they make it to safety? Can the calculating Dr Caldwell develop a cure? You’ll have to wait and see.


The heart of the story is Melanie. A kind and courageous girl, you can’t help but become deeply attached to her whilst almost slightly fearing her, and I thought Sennia Nanua did an excellent job of portraying the complexities of Melanie on the big screen. Interestingly, in the novel Melanie is white and Miss Justineau is black, but it’s been reversed in the film. I think it’s great that a young black girl has been given such a big part as the main protagonist here, and she was definitely the best actress to play Melanie.

Aside from that one change, I thought all the characters were very true to the book in terms of personality. Helen Justineau’s kindness and protectiveness, Sergeant Parks’ bravado hiding a softer interior, Dr Caldwell’s determination, Private Gallagher’s innocence. It really is a very true adaptation, keeping the core values of the book and much of the plot.

However, whilst this is a film about zombies, it is truly a film about humanity. Some of the best zombie films and books are the ones that look at humanity, not just the blood and gore. I can’t explain too much without revealing the ending, but there are some huge moral dilemmas in The Girl With All the Gifts. Me and Mark had a long conversation about it all afterwards, with differing opinions on morality. It’s definitely a bittersweet story.

The film has also clearly taken inspiration from Danny Boyle’s amazing 28 Days Later so, if you enjoyed that, you should enjoy this. I don’t think it’s as scary as 28 Days Later (Cillian Murphy in the church? The infected at the window? Terrifying), or even as scary as the novel, but it’s not trying to terrify you with jump scares; it’s about so much more than that. It’s about terrifying you with the prospect of the end of humanity.


In addition, I have to give a special shout out to the score for this film. It’s amazing. So creepy and tense and eerie, it was one of the best scores I’ve heard in a long while for a horror film. EDIT: (See link at the bottom to listen to the main theme).

However, there were a few slight negatives to the adaptation. One was that I think the ending was a little rushed. It needed more explanation. This was where me and Mark argued a little as the climax missed out some key aspects from the book and I had to explain it fully to him to make him understand the reasoning behind some of the actions in the finale. There were also a few scenes from the novel I would have liked to have seen included, but there was probably issues with running time. Lastly, whilst most of the big scenes did make it to the screen, some had been changed, and I would have liked them to be the same as the book because I think it would have had more of an impact. But hey, that’s just me being a picky reader.

Overall though, this was an excellent adaptation of the book and I was thoroughly impressed. Excellent acting, very true to the novel and a great score, I couldn’t have asked for much more. I definitely recommend both the book and the film.


Have you read The Girl With All the Gifts? Or seen the film? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

EDIT: I just managed to find the main theme from the composer on Soundcloud, so check it out here.



Film Review: The Conjuring 2


I have a love/hate relationship with horror. Mostly it’s love – I can’t get enough of it – but I struggle to watch a horror film without having to peer through my fingers. There’s something about scaring yourself half to death that is just so much fun.

I saw the first of The Conjuring films in the cinema when it was released and I absolutely loved it. It was terrifying and hilarious all at once and I vividly remember the scene where the old witch is suddenly on top of the wardrobe due to me shrieking ‘WHAT?!’ at the top of my voice in a packed screening. What was she doing up there?! Like I said, terrifying and hilarious.

The Conjuring refreshed a slightly stagnant horror genre where recent films were just no longer cutting it. Paranormal Activity was only truly scary the first time around, and installments like Ouija and the Insidious films just weren’t freaky enough. So, when I heard there was going to be another of The Conjuring films, I was extremely excited. I dragged a reluctant Mark to the cinema with me a week or so ago, ready to be terrified, and I wasn’t disappointed.


For starters, look at that thing. Just look at it. It really creeps me out. The team behind The Conjuring films really know what they’re doing when it comes to horror. One thing they’re especially good at is camera angles. Ever since I studied Media at A-Level, I’ve been a bit obsessed with camera angles, and The Conjuring team are excellent at them. They make you look in dark corners just in case, and they keep the things that go bump in the night just out of shot to ramp up the tension. They also know when is the best time to reveal what the antagonists – whether it be ghost, demon or witch – look like.

As with The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 is packed full of twists and dread. The twists in this installment aren’t obvious which is great, because that’s quite often how horror films suddenly lose the scare factor. However, whilst the twists were unique, I found the major twist killed the horror a little bit for me. I still liked it, but there was something about it that just didn’t work; I think it could have been handled a little better. This is a spoiler-free review so I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it just didn’t sit quite right with me; it was almost too convenient.

That being said, the film is still very scary. Not quite as scary as the first, though, as I think one of the antagonists, The Crooked Man, didn’t fit. I still watched a vast majority of the film through my fingers, however, and The Conjuring 2 retained that sense of impending dread that made the first film so creepy.


I also enjoyed the fact that it was set in England. I think horror films set in the UK are always just a little bit creepier than ones set in the US, one reason being because the UK still has so many period houses that I think make a better setting for a horror. Ghosts haunting a Tudor house are a lot scarier than ghosts haunting a semi-detached new-build in the suburbs because its just so much more believable, and also provides a much wider scope for horror – all manner of horrible things could have happened in a Tudor house over the centuries.

The setting of The Conjuring 2 is a relatively modern house, in contrast, but this isn’t your average haunting (as you’ll discover). It sounds like I am completely contradicting myself here, but still a British setting is always just a tad creepier for me, period house or not. Perhaps it’s because it just feels closer to home than an American horror.

I also thought Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson was excellent, although her North London accent was a bit off every now and then (she’s American). However, I felt the climax of the film was slightly rushed. The evil plaguing the Hodgson family was defeated surprisingly easily and I would have preferred more time between the major twist and the ending. There was a sprinkling of cheesiness in the film that killed the mood a little but, that being said, it was still an excellent horror film and I did enjoy it.

So, if you were a fan of the first film, the second won’t disappoint. Of course, you may like the twist more than I did, but I think that was what let it down a little in comparison with the first film. It just didn’t pack enough of a punch and, like I said, was a little too convenient. Hopefully, the spin-off of The Nun will make up for it. Although I don’t know how I feel about seeing that creepy nun again…

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Have you seen The Conjuring 2? Did you enjoy it? Was it scary enough for you? What did you think of the twist? Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)

My Long-Awaited Film Review for X-Men: Apocalypse


I used to occasionally watch the X-Men cartoons as a kid, but all I vaguely remember is really liking Rogue. It wasn’t until Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie that I could officially call myself a fan. If you don’t love superheroes and/or want to be them, then I think there’s something a bit wrong with you. And even though some of the X-Men movies have been a little hit and miss (X-Men: The Last Stand anyone? Although I did still really enjoy it…) they’ve still been fun.

Now, X-Men: Apocalypse was always going to struggle to top its predecessor Days of Future Past, especially since that film brought together the cast of the original trilogy with the new X-Men cast, satisfying all of the fans at once. Undoubtedly, Apocalypse fails to outshine Days of Future Past, and doesn’t maintain that bleak, ‘all hope is lost’ atmosphere that the previous film did so well. But it’s still an enjoyable film and, whilst being a fan of the original trilogies, I’m enjoying the new direction the franchise is going in after Days of Future Past reset the timeline.


So let’s start with the villain. I enjoyed Apocalypse as the antagonist. I really like Oscar Isaac, he’s a brilliant actor, and he delivers Apocalypse’s grandiose rhetoric well. However, whilst I didn’t find him cheesy, I wasn’t all that afraid of him; I was never too worried that he was going to succeed. Of course, we always know the X-Men are going to triumph, after all that’s what we’ve paid to see, but I was never too worried that maybe, just this once, the villain might succeed. Even though the superheroes always win, we should still feel that fear that maybe they won’t.

However, I did enjoy the new cast of characters in this film, the next generation of mutants. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique really bores me now and I’m glad she probably won’t be coming back for another film, even though I liked her in the last two films, and especially liked the character in the original trilogy. Unfortunately, Lawrence as Mystique just doesn’t have any of that mysteriousness; the clue is in the name after all, and she proved to be pretty useless in this film. As such, I’m glad this film gave time for other characters to shine.

One of these characters was Evan Peters returning as Quicksilver. He provided some great comic relief, and also some depth. Will Magneto find out Quicksilver is his son, or won’t he? Peters plays the character exceptionally well and I hope he holds a central role in the upcoming films as he did in this one.


As for some of the others, I enjoyed Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, which was great because Jean Grey is one of my favourite X-Men and her powers were allowed to shine in the climax of the film. However, I had to force myself to remember the X-Men timeline has changed and that Jean Grey doesn’t become the Phoenix and pretty much kill everyone, as she did in The Last Stand. I think it’ll be interesting to see what lies in store for the Phoenix in the future. I hope they’ll allow Jean to reach her power’s potential without going batshit crazy again.

I also liked Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers. He encapsulated the cockiness of Cyclops, as seen in the original trilogy, but also his vulnerability. However, sometimes the rudeness just got a little bit annoying and I wondered how Jean would ever end up with such an arsehole. Hopefully that was just teenage bravado.


Yet, as I said before, what let this film down a little was the fact that I never felt like the X-Men were truly in peril. However, it was still a really enjoyable film and it didn’t shy away from some dark themes. I’ve seen this film get mixed reviews, but I don’t think it deserves the panning that some critics have given it. It was still fun and sets up the future installments for the next generation of X-Men that we know and love from the original three films, as well as the comics (obviously) and the animated TV series. So I’d say don’t pass up on this film just because it got some bad reviews; form your own opinion instead.

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Have you seen X-Men: Apocalypse? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!

And sorry it took me so long to review it!

Caitlin (1)

Film Review: Captain America: Civil War



I am a huge Marvel fan. I’ve been watching the films since I was a kid, like the original Spiderman films with Tobey Maguire, to the X-Men films. I’ve seen both of those original trilogies numerous times, but when the new wave of Marvel films began, I didn’t actually pay them a lot of notice until Thor in 2011. I hadn’t been interested in the Iron Man films, but when Thor came out, followed by The Avengers a year later, I was undeniably hooked. I found the first two Iron Man films on Sky Movies and watched them, wondering why I had ignored them when they’d been released.

Upon the release of The Avengers, I was only familiar with Thor and Loki, and I hadn’t yet watched Captain America: The First Avenger. In fact, I always thought Captain America looked like a really corny superhero; I’m not American, so his inherent patriotism was foreign to me. But when I watched the first Captain America film, I really, really enjoyed it. For starters, it was set during the Second World War, so I found it interesting watching a ‘superhero’ in a setting that wasn’t the modern day. But also, Steve Rogers was just a small guy with a big heart, who got big to match that heart. He is in actuality very different to the other Avengers, not to mention the fact that all his loved ones have been and gone, believing him gone too. It’s hard to imagine the loneliness.

And then Captain America: Winter Soldier happened and Cap’s closest friend Bucky Barnes, who he believed dead, returned with no memories, a metal arm, and an order to kill Steve. The tension and emotion was too much. That’s when I knew the Captain America films were my favourite Marvel creations, along with the character of the ‘Winter Soldier’.


So, understandably, I was pretty hyped for Captain America: Civil War. In fact, I was more than hyped. After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was looking forward to the new additions for the team (especially after Age of Ultron fell a bit flat).

Did it live up to my expectations? The answer is yes, and then some.

I’ve heard some critics say that Civil War is a little slow to get going, but I think that only ramps up the tension. Besides, we know that there’s going to be a divide in the Avengers team, we know that there’s going to be two sides: Team Iron Man and Team Captain America. So why not build the tension? All the pieces shown to us at the beginning wrap up at the end to weave a complex plot that keeps you guessing. I was really glad the Russo brothers were back to direct this installment because they did a superb job with Winter Soldier and there was no exception here. By the time I left the cinema, I had a slight headache from getting way too excited and tensed up. There’s also a big, big twist at the end that I did not see coming and it’s the clincher of the film. It definitely got my heart pumping.


What with the whole idea of the ‘teams’, there was the potential for this film to fall into a plethora of corny lines, but the Russo brothers were clearly expecting this. The jokes dotted throughout the film are really quite funny, especially during some of the fight scenes that have the potential to be taken too seriously. A lot of the good one-liners went to Paul Rudd as ‘Ant-Man’, but that was to be expected. However, one of the funniest things was the dynamic between Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson, ‘Winter Soldier’ and ‘Falcon’ respectively. It was unexpected and comedic, and I look forward to seeing more of their duo in later films.

However, the plot wouldn’t be possible without Bucky Barnes. Despite Steve Rogers’ and Tony Stark’s differences taking top bill, the arguments wouldn’t be there to begin with if it weren’t for Bucky. For fans of the first two Captain America films, it’s just as interesting as it is heart-breaking to see Bucky attempting to recover after his time working for HYDRA, as well Cap’s mission to protect him. Just like Winter Soldier, the human element, not the big battles, take precedence here (although there are a lot of fights and explosions, so don’t worry if that’s what you’re after). This was something Joss Whedon failed to do in the previous Avengers film.


The great thing is, you can also see the reasoning behind both teams. I was always going to be #TeamCap, but I did feel sorry for Tony the more and more frustrated he got; he really believed he was doing something for the greater good. And maybe he was, but I understood Steve’s actions more, especially after witnessing Steve and Bucky’s friendship in The First Avenger (and witnessing Bucky Barnes’ face, he’s prettier than most girls). But that was what made the film so likeable; there’s no right or wrong answer and because of that the tension is sky-high.

All in all, this film exceeded my expectations. Good pacing, great humour and a humanity that had been lost in the previous team-up. As soon as it finished, I wanted to go back and see it again, and I was so thankful it was over 2 hours long! Even if you’re not really into Marvel films, it’s a slick piece of film-work and feels more like a thriller than an action movie. Just read up on the backstory before you go.

My Rating: 5/5


Which Team are you on? Have you seen the film; what did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)



Monday Musts #2

Monday Musts

Monday Musts is a meme hosted by Lovin’ Los Libros where you showcase your Must Read’s, your Must Listen’s and your Must See’s.

Must Read

I read Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Garden trilogy a few years ago after my high school English teacher introduced me to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. 

The trilogy has a lot of similarities to Atwood’s classic, such as women being used as baby-making machines, and the forbidden romance. But just because it draws inspiration from The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t mean it’s not unique and harrowing in its own right. I adored this trilogy, the bleak world DeStefano had created, and the protagonist of Rhine. Headstrong and passionate, you couldn’t ask for a lot more from her. Also, the book covers are really captivating, with items from the plot appearing there just to tease you.

If you haven’t read The Chemical Garden trilogy and need some well-written YA dystopian, definitely check the books out.

Must Listen

From Gold by Novo Amor is an atmospheric song I’m really liking at the moment. The rest of their stuff is pretty good and chilled out so give them a listen.

Must See

I watched In the Heart of the Sea on the plane back from New York. I didn’t have mega high expectations but it looked like some good escapism; plus I wanted to save films like The Revenant and Hateful Eight (I worship Quentin Tarantino) for a proper television screen.

But, I was pleasantly surprised! Based on the classic Moby Dick, it was really gripping and quite traumatic. The acting was brilliant, but then how could it not be with actors like Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw? Chris Hemsworth was good as always, but if you’re planning on ogling his muscles, think again; he’s not looking too brilliant after the inevitable whale attack…

I’ve never read Moby Dick and I know it’s supposed to be a bit of a difficult read, but after watching this film and it getting recommended by my ‘Great American Novella’ course seminar leader, I might give it a go.

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And that’s my Monday Musts for this week! Have you read The Chemical Garden? Or, better yet, have you read Moby Dick? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Caitlin (1)