One of the most interesting things about a zombie apocalypse, other than its mass appeal, is how many different stories it’s apparently possible to create in the midst of one. There’s horror, action, humour and even romance to be found amid the gore, and there’s really nothing quite like desolation and the death of a loved one or two for creating drama. Rarely, though, does a zombie movie come along that relies solely on the emotional impact of death, particularly when the death in question is that of the main character – in this case Maggie, a vulnerable 16-year-old from rural America. Cast Arnold Schwarzenegger into the mix as the soon to be grieving father and ask him to deliver something beyond the odd one-liner, and the genre’s fairly broad form book is out of the window before photography has even begun.
The plot is a simple one: Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has been infected with the Necroambulist Virus wreaking havoc throughout society. There’s no known cure and once the eight-week gestation period has ended, her options are limited to a visit to the local quarantine (read extermination) camp or taking matters into her own hands. Set up out of the way, most of the remaining runtime is dedicated to Maggie’s family dealing with her impending “turn”, in particular her father, Wade (Schwarzenegger).
The result is a slow, sombre tale that relies heavily on atmosphere and situational gravity rather than dialogue or action – a direction that, while impactful, does begin to drag. The bold decision to cast everyone’s favourite action hero in such a dramatic role proves to be distracting at times. But for a man whose emotional peak in cinema up to this point involved being lowered into molten steel, the performance is actually quite convincing. He even sheds an historic tear as the film inches towards its climax.
Also noteworthy is debutant director Henry Hobson’s use of light and the ever-stunning American Mid-West to add dramatic weight to his world. However, once the cinematics and dystopian atmosphere have been stripped away, there really isn’t a great deal left except people staring pensively out of windows as they wait for the end, and one of them is the Terminator. Maggie is without question an interesting addition to a genre already brimming with variety, but curiosities aside, sadly it isn’t a particularly good one.
Maggie is released nationwide on 24th July 2015.
Watch the trailer for Maggie here: