Henry Hobson’s 2015 film, Maggie is a superb zombie movie with a twist. This Arnold Schwarzenegger film isn’t The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later – it’s a low-key drama with a fantastic performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger. This film might star the Austrian Oak, but don’t expect slam-bam action from this touching family drama: Schwarzenegger is Wade Vogel, a farmer who will stop at nothing to protect his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) when she becomes infected with a zombie virus.
The simple set-up of Maggie manages to maintain a lot of tension and draw-out a tremendous amount of emotion. Hobson makes an assured debut and he takes many of the tropes of the zombie sub-genre and inverts them. He merely hints at a near-end of the world zombie apocalypse and instead chooses to focus on the remnants of social order. Everyone is living their lives in Maggie – they just do so around the outbreak of a killer virus.
Hobson takes John Scott III’s Blacklist script and creates a fascinating movie that touches on the fringes of horror but keeps its heart planted firmly in the realm of drama. Lukas Ettlin’s ethereal magic hour cinematography, Jane Rizo’s flinty editing and David Wingo’s reflective score give this a Terrence Malick-like quality. There are many pleasures to be had in this film, which, on paper sounds like a schlocky B-movie.
The majority of scenes in Maggie play-out between Abigail Breslin and Arnold Schwarzenegger and they both maintain a magnificent standard of acting throughout. Breslin manages to deliver an impressive amount of realism as the virus infected teenager. She tackles the role with authenticity and engages in what could have been cartoonish or even boring. However, it’s Schwarzenegger who does the most of the emotional heavy-lifting. Since his return to acting from political office, Schwarzenegger has continued to impress on a dramatic level. Maggie features his best performance yet and he coveys a tremendous amount of emotion and pain on screen. Simply put: it’s a fantastic piece of acting.
Maggie is a surprisingly heartfelt father-daughter drama that just happens to take place during the outbreak of a zombie virus. Henry Hobson’s film is poignant and well thought out and he deserves huge credit for adding a surprising spin on a worn-out horror staple. However, the major draw here is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mesmerising performance.