In the future, a strange fungus has changed nearly everyone into a thoughtless, flesh-eating monster. When a scientist and a teacher find a girl who seems to be immune to the fungus, they all begin a journey to save humanity.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a 2016 British post-apocalyptic zombie horror drama film directed by Colm McCarthy and written by M.R. Carey adapted from his novel of the same name. Starring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, and Sennia Nanua, the plot depicts a dystopian future following a breakdown of society after most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection and focuses upon the struggle of a scientist, a teacher and two soldiers who embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.
In the near future, humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious fungal disease. The afflicted are robbed of all free will and turned into flesh-eating zombies referred to as 'hungries'. Humankind's only hope is a small group of hybrid children who crave living flesh but retain the ability to think and feel. The children go to school at an army base in the Home Counties, where they are subjected to experiments by Dr. Caroline Caldwell. The children are treated like people, to the dismay of Sgt. Eddie Parks, although they are all restrained firmly in wheelchairs. Helen Justineau is responsible for educating and studying the children. Helen treats the children fairly and grows particularly close to an exceptional girl named Melanie, who is shown to have a genius level IQ and the two form a special bond. After Melanie reads a story she has written about a young girl saving a woman from a monster and the pair staying together forever (clearly drawing a parallel from her own feelings for Miss Justineau), Helen is overcome with emotion and strokes the girl's head. Sgt. Parks bursts in and severely rebukes Helen; he spits on his arm and holds it under the nose of one of the children, evoking a violent, animalistic response from the child that spreads to the others, apart from Melanie who alone struggles to restrain herself due to Helen's affection for her.
Dr Caldwell is revealed to be researching a cure by experimenting on the children. Caldwell gives Melanie riddles, which her high IQ allows her to solve easily. One day Caldwell asks Melanie for a number between one and twenty - Melanie chooses thirteen, and the child in cell thirteen is absent the following day. The next time Caldwell asks Melanie for a number, she is surprised when Melanie chooses her own cell number (four). Caldwell reluctantly takes her to her lab, whereupon Melanie sees preserved body parts belonging to child thirteen. As she is strapped to a table, Helen rushes into the lab and tries to intervene to save her as it is revealed that Dr Caldwell intends to autopsy the body and remove Melanie's brain. Helen is easily disarmed but the base is invaded and the lab breached before Caldwell can proceed. Helen helps Melanie escape but outside the hungries are everywhere.
Melanie attacks and infects two soldiers who are trying to restrain Helen. Helen is then rescued by Sgt. Parks in an armoured van. Dr Caldwell, Sgt Parks, and Privates Kieran Gallagher and Dillon allow Helen and Melanie into the vehicle, and the group escape the base into the wild, but get stuck at a river whilst collecting water. The group is surrounded and attacked by more hungries and Parks is forced to execute Private Dillon who has been bitten and has started to succumb to the fungus.
As the van is now broken down, the group proceed to London on foot where there should be more food and they can communicate with Beacon, a larger military base. They find London full of unstimulated hungries. By using a gel that blocks their scent and moving quietly, they manage to evade the hungries and hide out in an abandoned hospital. When they try to leave the next day, they realise the hospital is surrounded. Melanie offers to lead the hungries away - as she alone will not be attacked by them - and the group agrees. She wanders around the area, exploring houses and experiencing childish wonder at the domestic things she has never before encountered. She eats a cat, and then uses a dog she finds as bait to lure the hungries away from the hospital.
As they progress through London they come across a mass of bodies encircling the BT Tower all sprouting with pods. Caldwell explains to the group that the pods contain spores that, if released, could end humankind, as the fungus will become airborne. They find a military lab and truck whose crew has gone missing. The group hole up and Melanie asks to leave to get food as she is finding her urge to feed overpowering. Melanie finds a group of wild childlike hungries, who've learnt to smell out unaffected humans through the scent masking creams. She returns to the lab to warn the group that Kieran, who has also set off in search of food, is in danger. Helen and Parks set off with Melanie but arrive too late and find Kieran's body ravaged and the childlike hungries surrounding them. Melanie manages to scare the hungries off by battling their leader to the death and rescue Helen and Parks.
When they return to the lab they are surprised and knocked out by gas that Caldwell has released. She attempts to drag Melanie into the lab but Melanie awakens, revealing she needs to breathe less than the uninfected humans. Caldwell explains she is dying of a septic wound and needs to find the cure before she succumbs, and before the pods open, which will eventually happen as soon as they are exposed to water or heat. She tries to reason that she can save Helen for Melanie and will make her death less painful. Melanie asks if Caldwell now believes Melanie is truly alive, rather than simply mimicking human emotions as Caldwell once believed. When Caldwell admits that she knows Melanie is genuine, Melanie asks why her kind should die to save humans; she then breaks free, leaving the lab and running back to the centre of London. She sets the pods alight, causing them to germinate. Dr Caldwell, meanwhile, has attempted to follow Melanie, but is surrounded by the wild children and killed. As Melanie returns to the lab she finds Sgt Parks succumbing to the spores. They talk and she learns of the root cause of his animosity: he lost his wife who was 7 months pregnant to the infection; it is hinted that the newborn feasted on the mother as was the case with Melanie and all other "second-generation" hungries. He asks her to not let him succumb and Melanie grants him his wish.
The film closes with a tearful Helen awakening in the lab, secure from infection but effectively a prisoner, and the second generation children all waiting, kept violently in place by Melanie, for her to educate them. It closes with Melanie asking for a story, saying that they have plenty of time.