Helmed by newbie director Henry Hobson, Maggie – an unconventional father-daughter tale starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin – is far from your usual zombie apocalypse adventure.
A deadly infection which turns humans into cannibalistic zombies hits America, devastating the nation and driving a wedge through the Vogel family unit. With no cure available, the infected’s fate is sealed: a one-way trip to quarantine. After returning his recently infected daughter Maggie (Breslin) to the Vogel household, father Wade (Schwarzenegger) is determined his pride and joy will see out her remaining days in the comfort of the family home.
Hobson’s feature debut isn’t the horror-iffic, blood-spilling zombie-induced extravaganza we’re used to viewing: Maggie is character-driven fodder which tries oh-so-hard to be an emotional family drama in a undead-infested world.
Think Still Alice with a tiny smidgen of Dead Bodies; this Arnie-led flick takes us through the life-changing motions of a terminal illness, as a family look to cope with the deathly transition of their young daughter fighting a lost cause. The idea behind Maggie, at least, is an intriguing one: asking hard-hitting questions within strange, unruly circumstances as the infected battle both the condition and the unfair stigma attached to it.
Witnessing the Governor attempt to ‘play it straight’ is always an interesting prospect, but this moody zom-drama lacks the conviction that its curious premise suggested. Maggie’s lifeless emotional pull – drowned out by sluggish dramatics (depressively dull looking with over-bearing music and over-zealous close-ups) and threadbare performances – is epitomised by Arnie’s Wade’s signature one-teared close-ups. Breslin’s Maggie – a young girl having the life literally drained right from her – is, disparagingly, the film’s bright spark compared to her own-screen father’s broody, beard-wearing (and longful stare-pulling) display.
Underneath it all, Hobson’s slow-burner does, deep down, have a bit of life in it: it’s just a shame the once black-listed story is drowned out in such emotionless, boresome fashion. Quarantine sounds more fun…