I’ve been hearing decent things about the new zombie drama (zom-dram?) MAGGIE, directed by newcomer Henry Hobson. Unlike THE WALKING DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD, this film focuses on the typically villainized zombies’ human quality. They aren’t blood-thirsty monsters, but actually have a family and friends that love them. Their “turn” from human to monster isn’t instantaneous, and they have to live with their impending fate for a lot longer than what we have seen in many other films. But unfortunately, MAGGIE seems to think it’s a lot more original and clever than it really is. In fact, I think LIFE AFTER BETH did a better job at showing this human evolution into zombie (and was a lot more entertaining too).
I don’t need tons of action – or even blood and guts – to enjoy a zombie movie. But MAGGIE really seemed to forgo entertainment for a minimally realized world of one-dimensional characters with little to no back story. If you want me to care about a girl’s slow transformation into a zombie, I am going to need to know more about her life and background. Yes, it is interesting to see Arnold Schwarzenegger take on a new kind of role that’s not based solely on muscles and explosions… and hopefully this will be the start of a new spate of movie choices for him. But as much as I wanted to like MAGGIE, frankly I was in the midst of my own slow transformation – from interested to bored.
MAGGIE begins months after a virus breaks out, which causes its victims to develop zombie-like symptoms. You know the kind: ambling, creepy walkers who get their sustenance from human flesh. Once infected by someone with the virus (in the case of our heroine, bitten), their turn from human to zombie isn’t immediate; it takes several weeks for you to go fully agro. In that period of time, a government agency is tasked with monitoring your transition and placing you in quarantine, where you will eventually be killed.
When we meet Maggie (Abigail Breslin), she is weeks into her transition. In order to protect the rest of her family, she is living with her aunt (Joely Richardson) and father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in a farmhouse. Due to deals her father made with community leaders (such as a local doctor and police sheriff), Maggie is allowed to live in society longer than most of those infected. But as her symptoms start to get worse, her dad must make the decision of sending her to quarantine or letting her live out the rest of her life with him. Sounds a lot like The Governor in THE WALKING DEAD to me!
I won’t deny that Hobson does have some really beautiful shots and in general, the look of the film displayed a sound first directorial effort. But the bottom line is, MAGGIE is a forgettable movie that contributes little to the genre. An interesting premise was written into a fairly shallow, predictable script and I’m sure in a few months I won’t even remember writing this review.
My Review: C-