First time feature director Henry Hobson takes a shot at the storied zombie genre with Maggie, a film that delivers a unique spin on the undead by focusing on the infected and those on the brink of turning into a flesh-eating monster. In the film, a teenage girl in the Midwest becomes infected by an outbreak of a disease that is slowly turning her into a zombie. During her transformation, her loving father stays by her side awaiting the inevitable.
He may not be reinventing the wheel here, but Hobson smartly takes a familiar idea and focuses his story on the one part of the zombie genre that it rarely explores—the infected, not the monsters they become. And it’s in this approach that the film finds a nice, emotionally charged balance between a father and daughter dealing with an unavoidable death.
It’s a sad story caked in darkness, and it’s one that finds light in two wonderful performances from both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin. The two, while mostly taking a quiet approach to their roles, have a terrific chemistry on screen. We all know how great Breslin is, so it’s Schwarzenegger that turns in the surprising performance. He wears his emotion on his face, allowing the expressions to speak louder than words. His performance is reflective of the film as well, which is a mostly tranquil movie that never hides from where we all know it’s headed.
But because the film is stuck on a one way narrative, it unfortunately lacks any real punch. You’re never concerned about Maggie, because in everyone’s eyes, she’s already dead. With the film never shying away from Maggie’s illness and the fact that she will soon be a cannibal corpse, the journey towards the end of the film is mostly a depressing one. It’s one of those movies that despite successfully hitting all the intended notes, you’ll find it very hard to recommend to others. The film essentially boils down to watching 90 minutes of a girl slowly dying, while here family is forced to sit around and watch. Not exactly an uplifting movie, that’s for sure.
With that said, by focusing on the slow, grueling process of turning into the undead, it’s enough to warrant Maggie a nice little spot in the genre. So, if you’re looking for the typical blood and guts zombies are known for, you won’t find it here. Instead, Maggie turns its attention on those unlucky enough to be bitten by the living dead and the pain of knowing what lies ahead.
Follow Rhino’s Horror on Facebook to stay up to date on all the horror that matters!