Henry Hobson’s debut Maggie is an indie zombie-drama about an unshakeable bond between a father and daughter. We first meet Midwest farmer Wade as he’s searching for his oldest child. Once reunited we quickly learn that he’s been looking for her for a fortnight. His efforts to bring his daughter home pay off, but only temporarily. Maggie has been bitten. She’s caught a virus and is now a victim to the epidemic sweeping the country. Wherever Wade and Maggie go we see expansive landscapes of burning crop fields and ghost-like towns and establishments. Maggie is now one of countless other terminally doomed patients. There is no cure and no hope for Maggie. Wade and Maggie have only a matter of weeks to share before she must be quarantined, a fate seen by many as worse than death. As the minutes tick by and all involved remain in both dread and denial, they must begin to contemplate what should be done when the unavoidable finally happens. Balancing dystopian family drama with both zombie and body horror, Maggie is a sentimental and sincere take on a somewhat exhausted genre. A teen zombie flick with real heart and soul, Maggie brings with it an all new type of on-screen Arnold Schwarzenegger and an outstanding and fragile performance from the ever promising and always captivating Abigail Breslin.
Anticipation over Schwarzenegger’s “serious” acting chops will bring many to Maggie. It seems less is more when it comes to trying to get a truthful, believable performance from the action star. More complex than we’re used to seeing him but as Austrian sounding as ever, Arnie gives a controlled and heartfelt performance as a loving family man. You get the impression that he’s being constantly directed to rein it in but it remains impressive and refreshing to see him in such a role. Breslin is exceptional. She is responsible for portraying the mental transformation and terror reflected in the gruesome visual changes we see happening to her body. Meanwhile she’s also presenting us with a complex teen – awkward, angry and lost, just like the non-infected friends around her. Maggie shares the same striking cinematography and style as other recent indie films such as Joe and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. It’s formulaic in that sense but also thrives from the parental love at its heart. Breslin and Schwarzenegger’s chemistry brings Maggie to life and is the crucial thread that binds several genres and contrasting conventions together. Reminiscent of The Road and equally as harrowing, Maggie will satisfy a variety of demographics with its well-paced transformations, loyalty to the zombie genre and exploration into the moral challenges faced in a somewhat post-apocalyptic world.
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