May 19, 2015
A global viral epidemic was turning its victims into cannibalistic zombies. Marguerite "Maggie" Vogel was recently diagnosed with this dreaded disease. Against all odds, her father Wade brought her home, stood by her and protected her as the virus gradually and cruelly takes over her body and mind.
Just because Arnold Schwarzenegger is headlining this, zombie fans may be expecting something exciting and grand scale like "World War Z" here. Quite the contrary though, "Maggie" takes a languidly-paced and low-key approach to this genre. While it may have some gruesome images, "Maggie" is not a horror film by intention. It is driven not by scenes of mass mayhem and explosive war, but by the relationship of its two main characters, an intimate family drama about the father and daughter bond.
Ever since he hit the Hollywood big time as "Conan the Barbarian" back in 1982, Austrian bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been known as an action star - brash, loud, invincible. "Maggie" is remarkable because we see a totally different Schwarzenegger. He is quiet and sensitive here, almost contemplative. His best scene here did not even have a single word, punch nor gunshot. Schwarzenegger shows that he does have a wider acting range than what we give him credit for. Who would have known he had subtlety in him before this?
For her part, Abigail Breslin has been impressive since she debuted as Mel Gibson's daughter in "Signs" (2002). Her young career was already rewarded with an Oscar nomination for her sparkling performance in "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006). Here in "Maggie," under all her grim zombie makeup, Breslin was able to effectively convey the conflicting emotions of a young teenager facing a certain deadly fate, keeping a brave front outside while screaming from the inside.
As a whole though, the film itself may be too slow and depressing for the mainstream audience. In his feature film directorial debut, Henry Hobson opted for a relentlessly maudlin mood as all color had seemingly been washed out in favor of greys. Despite the heavy and potentially oppressive gloom, the project still remains watchable mainly because of the commendable acting performances of Schwarzenegger and Breslin. Their powerfully restrained climactic scene together in itself makes the whole film worth watching. 6/10.