September 1, 2015 Maggie (Movie Review)
Zombies have intrigued and frightened audiences since 1932’s White Zombie, and made a household name with George A. Romero’s Living Dead franchise beginning with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, although the word “zombie” was never used. This led to a slew of other Zombie films and TV series like AMC’s The Walking Dead series from the Comic Book series of the same name currently making the American Movie Channel big ratings. On May 8th, 2015, Grindstone/Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions released Maggie. The film was directed by newcomer, Henry Hobson, produced by Maggie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator 1984, Total Recall 1990) from a script written by John Scott III with make-up handled by Le Diedra Baldwin and special effects contact lenses by Kevin Carter (Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 2000, Blood Shot 2013). However, does it stack up?
Widower, Wade Vogel (Schwarzenegger) and his family; his second wife, Caroline (Joely Richardson: Wetherby 1985, Endless Love 2014), and their kids, Bobby (Aiden Flowers: Smothered 2014, Home Sweet Hell 2014), Molly (Carsen Flowers: 2 Bedrooms 1 Bath 2014, June 2015), and Maggie (Abigail Breslin: Signs 2002, Ender’s Game 2013), who has been bitten in the middle of the Zombie epidemic. As the bite spreads, she must either be city-run quarantined or Wade must put her down. The choice is his.
Maggie is definitely not a run-of-the-mill Zombie flick. First off, it has Arnold “Terminator” Schwarzenegger in his first Zombie film. Also, like AMC’s The Walking Dead series, the living create the horror with their actions and decisions they make in how adamant the powers that be are at quarantining people when they get to a certain point in the change. Other bits of horror come in flashbacks Maggie has of her attack, but they are extremely fleeting. By and large, Maggie is a Drama.
Henry Hobson, in his directorial debut, does a nice job conveying the inevitable with the gradual deterioration of Maggie, the weight of the situation as Wade is constantly getting told what he needs to do by the doctors, the authorities, even his wife, letting the film slow burn without making the climax obvious within the film’s $8.6 mill budget.
The family dynamic is that of a family trying to pick up the pieces from tragedy to have another befall them. For instance, Schwarzenegger and Breslin as the father/daughter roles are believable. He, the torn father between duty and the love of a father to his daughter; she, the daughter trying to fight a losing battle while retaining some normalcy. Then, there is Richardson’s heartbreaking turn as Maggie’s stepmom, who is torn between keeping her husband’s wishes, or doing what needs to be done for the good of the family. The kids are just kids, excepting, because Maggie is family, just with questions.
Shot in the farm country of New Orleans, Hobson used a muted color pallet to underscore the diseased, deserted feel of the film. Hobson let Schwarzenegger show his age, so his Wade, with his gristly look, gives the feel of someone, who no longer cares about looks; work and protecting the family is top priority. The progression of Maggie’s deterioration evokes the futility of trying to keep normalcy. The Vogel house, as a whole, gives a sense of underlying sadness through the attempts at said normalcy in contrast to the set of the hospital’s well-oiled machine of cleanliness that serves as a halfway house between life and eradication.
The gem of Maggie is not Arnold Schwarzenegger. True, his name sells tickets, but the heart is what sells Maggie, how a tragedy affects members of a family and a family as a whole. While the dialogue can seem a little clunky at times, the film as a whole works. CrypticRock gives Maggie 5 out of 5 stars.