Maggie is the directorial debut from Henry Hobson and is a refreshing take on the very saturated zombie drama. It tells the story of Maggie (Abigail Breslin) who becomes infected with a disease that turns people into flesh craving zombies. The onset of the disease and the transformation from human to zombie is not instant or quick as in other films, it takes 6-8 weeks to turn. While the disease slowly sets in and takes over, Maggie’s father Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger) stays by her side as long as possible.
If there is one word I had to choose to sum up this movie, it’s beautiful. And everything comes out of this beauty that the film so eloquently exudes: the performances, the characters, the setting, the emotion. If Terrance Malick were ever to direct a zombie film, the result would be ‘Maggie’. I absolutely loved every minute of this movie.
Hobson’s directorial debut is very strong and extraordinarily well realized. The atmosphere and world is dark, dreary, beautiful, and real. The way the zombie sickness is handled and portrayed really turns this into a story about the loss of a life as opposed to the undead. These characters are our neighbors, our friends, and our children… and their turning isn’t played for horror or gore, it’s drawn out and sad and emotionally exhausting.
To add a sense of urgency and emotional punch, there is a constant underlying pulse to this movie; throbbing low, gritty beats and sorrowful music. Hobson had a clear vision for this film, and it shows. The viewer is also left with the impression that the only way this film works effectively is with strong and believable performances from the cast, particularly Maggie and her father Wade and their relationship.
In great contrast to his Hollywood image, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not searching to be a hero here. He knows he can’t save his daughter from the inevitable, but he also gives the subtle impression that his little girl will always be his little girl and perhaps it will be ok. He’s very still, very quiet, and let’s his weathered statuesque features display the coldness and stillness he feels inside, while showing great emotional depth with his eyes. It’s a very touching and loving and grounded performance from the former action star that left me feeling that Arnold still has something left to show us as an actor. It is, in my opinion, one of the best performances of the year so far and of his career.
I give credit to Abigail Breslin for getting such a great performance out of Schwarzenegger. She gives such a heartbreaking and remarkable performance as Maggie that all Arnold had to do was absorb and play off of her emotion. Yes, she is THAT good. Breslin is so natural here that this almost feels like a documentary of her instead of a character in a film. There is one bloody scene where she first displays the growing effects of her zombie sickness, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her tears were real, her fear was real, and her mad, confused hysteria was heartfelt and riveting.
Maggie is a powerful and fantastic story that every horror fan, every zombie fan, and every fan of film should see. Abigail Breslin gives a performance that has me checking her future projects and Henry Hobson delivers a movie that has me anxiously waiting to see what he does next.