If you were to describe a movie as having both zombies and Arnold Schwarzenegger, certain expectations would come to mind such as explosions, silly one-lines, and gratuitous gore.
“Maggie” has none of those first two things and what little violence there is feels more tragic than shocking.
The world of the movie should feel familiar to fans of the genre; a virus has sprung up and the infected stumble around looking for a quick bite to take out of someone. But in this infected future the military has been able to turn the tide and life is struggling to return to normal but not before the decaying undead have left their mark on both the population and landscape. The film follows Arnold as the farmer Wade who’s daughter, the titular Maggie and played perfectly by Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine” and the far less serious “Zombieland”), has been bitten and as in the case of any zombie movie this means an inevitable bad end. While any zombie story inevitably has a scene of a loved one being bitten and everyone else fearfully waiting for the bitten to turn, “Maggie” takes that concept and turns it into an effective, occasionally slow, family drama. Coming across like a mix of “Warm Bodies” and “The Fault In Our Stars” but without a shred of humor, “Maggie” could easily be a movie about a family dealing with cancer were it not for the hungry undead.
Much has been made about this being Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first real dramatic role and while his famous accent does bring to mind his more famous roles Schwarzenegger does more than just great in his role, there is real emotion to seen on his weathered face and even how he stands watching his farm and his daughter both decay; his slumped shoulders and pleading voice in Wade have more depth than several decades of action characters combined. It helps that he has such a great young actress to engage with as Breslin has proved time and time again to be quite the versatile actress. Whether it’s moments of body horror when discovering maggots in her bite wound or having a quiet reflective moment with her dad, Breslin lends deep emotion to a young girl facing a horrific and all-too-soon mortality.
The rest of the movie is also quite solid with strong cinematography and music throughout the movie with mournful strings and piano playing over shots of the wide open expanses of the Mid-West, now covered in ruin and smoke. Director Henry Hobson has a strong eye behind the camera in his first feature film for making the apocalypse look quietly beautiful; one of the most striking shots of the movie comes at night when Wade sets out to burn his rotting crops. It’s a stark shot, just a man illuminated by a dying fire and facing the slow demise of the world and it’s those kinds of shots and the great acting that make “Maggie” something memorable, far outweighing its slow and rather aimless second act. “Maggie” is out now in select theaters and Video-On-Demand services.
Photo Source: Screenshot from YouTube