Release Date: May 8, 2015 (Limited and VOD)
Director: Henry Hobson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 95 min.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Terrence Malick directed a lo-fi zombie movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well, wonder no more because Henry Hobson’s debut, Maggie, infuses much more Malick than Romero in this unique, but flawed, take on the zombie apocalypse.
Rather than yet another survival story featuring hordes of undead, Maggie takes a more intimate, emotional approach, by focusing the story on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character of Wade taking care of his daughter, Maggie, played by Abigail Breslin, as she slowly turns into an undead flesh-hungry creature.
Taking place almost entirely on the family farm, the film uses a muted color palate with cinematography comprised of nearly all handheld shots, either pulled in close on the characters or trailing behind them like so many other indies we’ve seen over the last few years. I knew I was in for a treat when a scene took place that involved the camera following behind Arnold as he slowly wondered through a wheat field, allowing the tall grass to wisp through his fingers. It felt odd, but then again, so did the majority of the film.
It’s refreshing to see Arnold act outside his comfort zone and tackle a role that requires him to show more range. As most of you have probably heard, this is not a horror film or an action film; it’s a character-driven drama, and it’s by far his best role since coming back to acting. Yes, there are a few jump scares and some action here and there, but the majority of the film revolves around a father coming to terms with the future loss of his daughter and trying to spend the most of what little time they have left. People going into Maggie thinking they’ll see Arnold bashing in zombie skulls will be sorely disappointed.
The dramatic elements within the film are hit and miss. Some of the dialogue is dreadfully bloated with exposition, and I was struggling to keep my attention focused on the story within the final act, due to the extremely slow plot progression. I must admit, however, that while I found some of the scenes a bit heavy-handed, others were dreadfully sad, even causing me to choke up during one particular shot. The fact that it’s a zombie infection is incidental and could have easily been replaced with any other terminal illness, proving that something as seemingly ridiculous and played out like a zombie movie has the ability to still tug at our heartstrings.
Maggie is an interesting film that manages to offer a refreshing take on the zombie film but just tries too hard at hitting that rural indie look. This could prove to be one of the more polarizing films of the year –some lauding its touching story while others having a more difficult time taking it seriously.
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