Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson
I can admire what first time director Henry Hobson was trying to do here, even if the movie was overall a failure. This isn’t the first time we have seen a popular and specific genre film adapted into a scaled down indie film. Zombies continue to be a subject of interest, mostly due to teen fandom and the television show The Walking Dead. The film’s biggest non-starter is with the cast; Arnold Schwarzengger is not the guy you cast for an internal, minimal dialogue performance. Playing a father, distraught over the infection of his daughter, his limited screen time and internal struggle makes him seem equally zombified. Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, August: Osage County) is the real treat here.
Wade (Schwarzenegger) has been searching for his daughter Maggie (Breslin) for two weeks. He listens intently to the news reports on the radio, as America continues to search for a cure to the rapidly infectious disease that spreads from crop to human, turning them into cannibalistic zombies. The infected body part turns black, almost like charcoal. The subject loses appetite for normal food, regaining it along with an elevated sense of smell for something more flesh like. Wade finds his daughter in the infirmary at a local hospital, she has been infected and he makes a deal with the doctor to care for her at home. There are only three choices, quarantine where they shove you in an infected cell and administer the death drug, give the drug to Maggie himself, or shoot her.
Arnold Schwarzengger is not the guy you cast for an internal, minimal dialogue performance.
If you look at all the money spent on World War Z, Resident Evil sequels or even 28 Days Later, Maggie if nothing else, proves zombie films can be cost effective. Hobson’s direction of John Scott 3’s script is all mood and atmosphere. Similar to post-apocalyptic How I Live Now, another genre film on a small scale, Maggie would have benefited greatly from better casting. Chloe Grace Moreitz (If I Stay, Hugo) came to mind while watching the film, according to IMDB she was originally slated to star in the film. However, it’s Wade that really needed an actor who could have elevated this role beyond quiet, broken father, who appears and disappears throughout the film. Tom Hardy comes to mind as someone who could have made this less stationary.
Maggie wants to be The Walking Dead meets The Terminator but there are not enough thrilling moments in the film to even keep the viewer in suspense. The only struggle here is between a father coming to terms with letting go of his precious daughter. The dialogue is so scarce, and the mood too lulling, it’s difficult to fight off the nod factor especially when we can pretty much guess the ending. The story hits the highest notes when Maggie is actually allowed to interact with friends, knowing she will never see them again. The script offers all the fixings of a cancer movie which is probably not what typical zombie fans want to see.