PG-13 | 95 min | Drama, Horror, ThrillerReview - Matt Mungle - @themungle
In theaters May 8th.
It is hard to think of Arnold Schwarzenegger and not immediately hear the thick accent and picture him fighting bad guys and cyborgs. But how will he do against an infectious disease? We find out in MAGGIE.
Wade (Schwarzenegger) is a simple Midwest farmer dealing with a zombie apocalypse as well as any of us could. A current outbreak of an incurably disease is slowly turning the effected into cannibalistic flesh eaters. When his young daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) is bitten and starts to turn, he has some hard decisions to make. But one choice he is dead set on is never leaving her side. Government officials have set up quarantined facilities that "aid" the dying in their last stages. Wade thinks he can take care of her at home. A tough call that could cost him everything.
Zombie's have a strong selling point when it comes to TV and movies. The walking dead are both intriguing and terrifying. The thought of something turning you or your loved one into an unstoppable monster that must be destroyed is scary. They still resemble the person you once knew but gone is any sense of human understanding and connection. That is what Wade and Maggie are facing. Once she starts to show signs of turning it is just a matter of time. How do you spend the last days? At what point do you give your child over to a government that is going to show no sort of compassion? As a child what do you expect your parents to do? So many questions are faced in a film that is more emotional and intellectual than it is horror driven.
Still, it is creepy and there are some intense moments that add some scares. But for the most part it is a drama that could easily have been set around non-zombie elements. Bottom line is a young girl is sick and dying and a father has no way of controlling it. Arnold does a good job of being sentimental yet strong willed. There is a quiet solidness about him. He has resigned to the fact that his daughter will change but how/where/why it plays out is his call. Or he wants it to be.
Breslin wowed us early on in her career so I keep expecting something more from her. She seems to just walk through a role - which seems fitting for a zombie - but here we needed a bit more emotion and connection. Here is a young girl facing a horrible death right in the face yet she seems melancholy. Even when she is talking to her friends she is detached. I wanted more anger, frustration, denial. Something. Maybe it wasn't in the script.
This film moves as slow as a zombie walks. You get the feeling that the characters are walking around in a daze. I am sure if this happened in real life we would all be in a clueless funk. The dialogue is sparse and they say only what needs to be said. There is a lot of contemplating, reflecting, and worry. There is a gray tone to it that adds to the somber foreboding. From start to finish you feel the tension and are anxious for the final act. Many will revel in this sea of angst while others will want the band aid ripped off a tad faster.
MAGGIE is rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including bloody images, and some language. It is a far cry from the blood guts zombie flicks you are used to. In fact this one has very few zombies in it. And those that are there are shown in a much more human likeness than normal. This adds to the emotional aspect of the film for sure. I give it 3.5 out of 5 eye drops. It was what I expected but not much more than that.