M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on January 26, 2017! Available On Demand, digital download, & DVD here from Lionsgate/Saban Films! Also streaming on Netflix!

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (2016)

aka SHE WHO BRINGS GIFTS
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Mike Carey
Starring Gemma Arterton, Dominique Tipper, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Sennia Nanua, Anamaria Marinca, Fisayo Akinade, Anthony Welsh, Tessa Morris, Elise Reed
Find out more about this film @girlwithallthegifts and on Facebook here

I promise you. While you’re going to have to fight back the urge to roll your eyes when I say that one of (if not THE) best horror films of the year is a zombie film, after watching this amazing new take on the well-worn subgenre, you’re going to look folks straight in the eye and say it’s true. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is a sophisticated and wonderfully original tale of the zombie apocalypse that you’ll never forget.

While we aren’t made privy to it in the opening sequences, the world has been overrun by zombie-like creatures. The military and scientific communities have been working together for a cure and a defense against these rampaging beasts which spread their virus fast and cause those afflicted to sprint and bite anything and everyone in their path that aren’t afflicted. Meanwhile, a second generation of the affected has been discovered. A handful of children afflicted with the virus are being studied alive and dead to understand the virus better. One of these children is Melanie (Sennia Nanua) a polite and smart little girl who happens to also be afflicted with the virus. Every day Melanie counts down to the moment she is shackled to a wheelchair and taken to class with Miss Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) a kind hearted teacher who struggles with seeing the virus in the eyes of these innocent looking children. When the gates to the military facility are knocked down and the camp is overrun, Melanie, Helen, a gruff Sergeant (the always amazing Paddy Considine), and scientist Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) continue the research and search for both a cure and a safe place to survive.

Right from the top, this film is absolutely amazing and most of that has to do with the bright hearted spirit of Sennia Nanua as Melanie. When we are introduced to her, we only see the inhumanity in the way she is treated in this prison cell where all she has is a few pictures of cats and families to give her hope. And despite all of the horrors around her, Melanie never seems to lose hope and look at the brighter side of horrific situations. She truly is a caged animal, only allowed out for a class she looks forward to and spending time with Helen, a person who actually shows her kindness. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, Melanie never seems to have her spirit broken and this is a role that will make you go through a myriad of emotions through as we laugh with her when she is happy and cry when we see her still chin up even in times of true horror. Nanua has a bright career ahead of her and seeing the power in her performance here is something will leave most folks awe-struck. I certainly was.

The story itself, by comic book writer Mike Carey (who wrote LUCIFER and UNWRITTEN) is exactly what I am looking for in a zombie film, in that it ventures into uncharted territory. This is not the same old outbreak film you’ve seen a million and one times. This is an altogether new monster as it focuses on humanity trying desperately to cling to this earth despite insurmountable odds. Sure there are scenes of zombies bursting through gates and humans battling masses of biting creatures. But while those scenes are intense, it gets those scenes out of the way for newer, more interesting scenes that takes the story into more of a DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS realm than your typical George Romero joint. The virus is more spore-like and grows like a weed out of the mouths and eyes of the zombies once they are spent and blossoming into something more beautiful and deadly. Again, by giving us something we haven’t seen before, THE GIRL WITH ALL OF THE GIFTS shines brighter than any zombie film I’ve seen in years.

Top level effects, nerve-shredding directing, phenomenal performances from actors who rarely don’t give their all like Paddy Considine to big names who don’t mind getting grungy like Glenn Close. But the glue holding it all together is the amazing relationship between Melanie (Nuana) and Helen (Atherton). It makes the film all the more poetic, unique, and iconic from beginning to end. All of this makes for a shining gem in the crown of horror and something all who call themselves horror fans have no excuse to miss.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!


#2 – THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
#3 – GET OUT
#4 – THE DEVIL’S CANDY
#5 – THE EYES OF MY MOTHER
#6 – CAPTURE KILL RELEASE
#7 – THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE
#8 – IT CHAPTER ONE
#9 – THE VOID
#10 – SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL
#11 – SAVAGELAND
#12 – IT COMES AT NIGHT
#13 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#14 – THE SIMILARS
#15 – HOWL
#16 – SEOUL STATION
#17 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#18 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#19 – I AM THE PRETTY THING IN THE HOUSE
#20 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#21 – SPLIT
#22— TRASH FIRE
#23 – 47 METERS DOWN
#24 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#25 – THE SUBLET
#26 – PATCHWORK
#27 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#28 – GERALD’S GAME
#29 – LAKE BODOM
#30 – NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE
#31 – THE EVIL WITHIN


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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