‘Maggie’ Movie Review – A Stripped-Down Zombie Thriller
The zombie genre is here to stay – as evident by the hordes of films and TV shows coming off the success of AMC’s hits series The Walking Dead. It’s hard to blame studios for picking up zombie films either. Even before The Walking Dead, there were great films like 28 Days Later and, for you comedy folks, Zombieland (not to mention all the classic Romero films that set the stage). These films showed us the chaos following one of the biggest “what-ifs” in apocalyptic nightmares. We could make arguments that the zombie franchise is turning into a cliché; however, recent movies like Warm Bodies and this weekend’s release of Maggie show that the genre is starting to get a little more creative. If nothing else, that’s a reason to back Henry Hobson’s independent zombie thriller.
Maggie is set in the Midwest in pretty much present-day where a slow-moving zombie apocalypse has taken over the nation. The movie’s title refers to a teenage girl (played by Abigail Breslin) that has been infected but not quite fully-turned. She battles with dealing with her imminent deal but the film also explores the toll it takes on her friends and family. At the forefront is her caring father (played – and no this isn’t a typo – by Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Like I alluded in the lead, Maggie takes a different approach to the zombie narrative. It doesn’t focus on a family trying to survive the apocalypse, or the brutal sacrifices people will make to survive. It also doesn’t really care much about explaining what a zombie is, how the virus was propagated, or any of that hypothetical junk. Instead, it takes a much smaller approach, one that can be appreciated in a time of big-budget, high-concept turnkey productions.
The movie, despite its genre and, to a degree, its top-billing cast, has a much more independent vibe.
That isn’t to say Hobson and company don’t tout Schwarzenegger’s huge name. I would’ve loved to be in on that conversation when they pursed the tough, burly Schwarzenegger and his reaction when he found out his most action-packed scene would involve just two zombies. Schwarzenegger holds his own though in the more drawn-back dramatic role. He’s sympathetic, even if the script (which for awhile was on the famed “Black List”) tries its hardest to keep his voice out of the movie.
Breslin’s performance is probably quote-unquote better but it’s probably because she is the focus of the movie. I was afraid the film would actually focus too much on Schwarzenegger’s character because he’s the bigger draw. However, script concessions obviously weren’t made to include him more, and, really, it’s her interactions with her siblings and, ultimately, her friends that makes Maggie work.
With all this in mind, Maggie still isn’t a film for everyone. Despite the fact that it shifts its focus from the virus to the aspect of living with the virus, it’s still slower and does seem to drawl on (even though it’s a short 95 minutes).
Like many movies, it’ll come down to movie taste. People coming in looking for zombie action sequences with plenty of blood and guts will be severely disappointed. I’d also not blame them for seeing Schwarzenegger’s name and thinking it was a zombie action film. However, those looking for a stripped-down version of The Walking Dead – meaning it still focuses on the human component of the zombie apocalypse – there’s a good chance you’ll appreciate what Maggie has to offer.
Maggie is out in limited release starting this weekend. You can also stream it on Video On Demand. Check out the film’s official website here.
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