Thursday, 7 May 2015

It's not a Tumor, it's a Zombie! Review of Maggie (2015)

Maggie (2015)
Director: Henry Hobson
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, and Joely Richardson
Running Time: 95 min

  I believe that it is one of the signs of the upcoming apocalypse that Arnold Schwarzenegger (Junior, Twins) is in a zombie movie.  And from the look of the trailer, he has traded in all the artillery in the world to spend the last moments with his undead infected daughter.  Can this 80's action star put away the one liners and bring enough real emotion to the big screen? I guess we'll have to see, I'll be back.

  After weeks of searching for Maggie, his daughter, Wade find her at an outbreak center in one of the inner city hospitals.  There has been an outbreak of a disease that turns people into zombies, bringing the world we know to a grinding halt and Wade's daughter has been bitten by one of these creatures.  Luckily, Wades' friend and family doctor, Vern has vouched for Wade and he is able to bring Maggie home before her infection gets into the later stages and has to be quarantined like many of the others.  He signs her out and the two of them quietly drive back to the farm.
  When they arrive, Maggie is excitedly greeted by her much younger siblings and her step mom, Caroline, who is apprehensive of this situation but understands that Wade needs be with his daughter before she becomes a flesh starved, cannibal zombie.  However, Wade and Caroline are sending their other children to live with a relative while Maggie is "changing" just to be on the safe side.  The police also come to visit and are keen to let Wade know that they think he should have Maggie sent to a quarantined area but Wade assures them that he will do the right thing when its time.
  While Maggie is there, her infection of course gets worse and worse and while she is slowly deteriorating, Wade and Caroline get more concerned about their safety.  However like any dad, Wade has a hard time letting go of his little girl and seeing that she is becoming a monster.  Will Wade be able to do "what is right" when the time comes or will he let her and his emotions eat away at him in the end?

  This is a very different kind of zombie movie and its interesting because it explores a different side of zombie culture, which is the people dealing with the grief and loss of their loved ones to this flesh eating disease.  Most zombie films are either action pack horrors or comedy/horror but writer John Scott 3 (Maggie) and director Henry Hobson (Maggie) focus on the more dramatic aspect and give a grueling look on how a family may cope with this kind of loss.  Unlike "The Walking Dead", where we see people constantly losing friends and family but have to keep running to survive, here the world is finally pulling itself together and it has the infection somewhat under control, at least enough to allow time for people to reflect and try to take care of their sick family members.
  Abigail Breslin (Nim's Island, Haunter) does a decent job as Maggie but she is no stranger to either aspect of this film's concept.  In "My Sister's Keeper", she was the one who had a dying sister and forced by her parents to go through countless operations to save her and of course, "Zombieland", where she plays a young rough and tumble zombie hunter.  So she's been to a similar dances and has some touching scenes with the character Maggies' friends, one who is also infected and the others trying to bear seeing their friends dying.
  I was most surprised to see Arnold Schwarzenegger (Hercules of New York, Red Sonja) step up to the plate and work in a character driven film.  Again, it is not what someone would expect from an Arnold movie, there are not funny one liners but he does get to kill a few zombies.  This is a very serious Dromie (drama/zombie) movie but it does allow Schwarzenegger to open up and give one of his most touching and best performances. 

  There are a few things that people should know going into this film.  For instance, it's not "Dawn of the Dead' meets "Terminator", nor is it "Shaun of the Dead" meets "Jingle All the Way".  There is not a lot of your typical zombie cliches.  There is nothing in the closet and there are no hordes of zombies scouring the streets looking for people to feast on.  However, there are a few "tasteful" scenes, I can't believe I wrote that, that accent the plight and sorrow of what this family is going through.
  Also, it is a little slow moving.  I don't know why the writer gave Maggie so much time to transform, 6 to 8 weeks, it just seems a little much and for what was happening in the film, it could have easily been tightened to a week.  This would have offered a little more drama, because like waiting for a package, 6 to 8 weeks seems like forever in a horror/drama film.

  Altogether though, I think that this is a very solid first film from two very talented people.  I like that in a world plagued with similar zombie stories cannibalizing from each other that something original can pull itself out of the ground.  Also, I think this film gives audiences a chance to see Schwarzenegger actually act, instead of just watching him blow things up, which is an interesting change.  So, if you are looking for a very different kind of zombie movie, that focuses on the emotional impact of a family struggling to deal with their infected family memebers, then this may be for you. 


1 comment:

  1. Good review. I concur. Good to know Arnold can do more than stumble thru one-liners.