Reviewed by Mitch Burns
Directed by: Henry Hobson
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson and Douglas M. Griffin
Independent film has been a breeding ground for new directors, such as Henry Hobson, to stretch their wings, and where veteran actors, like Schwarzenegger, get to show their talents. A smaller budget allows for cast and crew to work with what little they have, and hopefully rely on strong writing, acting, or directing.
In “Maggie”, Mankind has is struggling with the Necroambulist virus, a virus which turns people into zombies, although no one calls them zombies because that would be unheard of in a zombie movie. The virus is slow acting, it is passed from person to person through bites, and the virus spreads from the bite, slowly throughout the entire body.
Maggie is about Marguerite Vogel (Abigail Breslin) who is called “Daisy”, “Dais”, “Mag”, Mags” and of course “Maggie”, by her father Wade Vogel (Arnold Schwarzenegger), because one nickname clearly isn’t enough. Maggie is seen wandering around a city, crying and scared. She calls her dad and tells him not to come find her, and that she loves him. Why is Maggie out alone and after curfew in a city where zombies may be roaming in the shadows? We don’t get an answer to that, so we’ll chalk it up to character stupidity.
Maggie’s arm is bitten by an infected person, and she is taken to quarantine. Her father wade (Schwarzenegger), has supposedly been searching for her for two weeks, leaving his wife (Joely Richardson) and two other kids home alone. He finally finds Maggie and is allowed to take her home so that she may let her live out her finals days there.
Maggie is essentially the story of a sick young girl, in the care of her father and stepmother, as she slowly turns. Once she is near fully turned, her father is supposed to turn her in where Maggie will be put into quarantine. Maggie is basically dying a slow death, one that is dangerous to everyone around her.
The most interesting part about Maggie is this world it takes place in, it’s we don’t see often. Most zombie films show a world ravaged and destroyed by the virus, while Maggie takes place in a world where the outbreak is, for the most part, under control. Society has pushed on, the power works (not always well), we still have law enforcement, doctors and farmers. The virus hasn’t won globally, although it is affecting families such as the Vogels. The virus is passed from human to human, but for some reason farmers are burning their crops… The world is interesting, but maybe not full-fledged.
Unfortunately, Maggie doesn’t delve deep enough into a world that is mildly interesting, instead the film takes a traditional indie route, and goes down a path traveled all too often as of late. Maggie pads its 95 minute run time with tall stalks of grass blowing in the wind, girls swinging on swings, characters walking slowly in open fields and staring out windows. The film seems to take place almost entirely at dusk, with heavy cloud cover, and avoids sunlight, It’s basked in a gray color palette, and is accompanied by a score that is super depressing.
Maggie suffers from a terribly clunky script, you can’t blame Schwarzenegger for the bad dialogue this time. As I’ve hinted at, the plot isn’t well established, we’re jolted into a world we know nothing about and nothing is ever properly explained. It doesn’t really matter, we spend the entire film with 3 characters and never like any of them. Schwarzenegger’s character even disappears for huge chunks of the film, with no explanation as to why.
Maggie is an indie zombie film, with the same through-line as the french language film Amour, both films center around a woman dying and someone taking care of them, and both films are utterly tiring and mundane. The film is elevated slightly thanks to good makeup, a competent ending, and decent performances, especially by Breslin and Schwarzenegger. Regrettably, poor writing and direction leave Maggie where it seems to want to linger, in the dark.
And no, thinking of this as a sequel to the 2009 Zombie comedy Zombieland, also starring Bresling, doesn’t make it any better.
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