There is a zombie outbreak across the country. A young midwestern girl named Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has been infected by this virus. Her loving father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) decided to do what he can to care for her as she goes through her transformation. Maggie tries to live a relatively normal teenage life while she can. Unfortunately, there are several obstacles in her way including people who fear what she will become and the feared “quarantine zone.” How far will her father go to keep her safe?
This film was incredibly well done. I think what I enjoyed the most is that the story took a different approach to the idea of a zombie virus. The transmission of the virus is the same where if a person is bitten by the infected, they will become a zombie as well. Something that was different is that while in most films the change happens within hours, or even minutes, the virus in this film takes days to take over the body. It was very interesting to watch the slow decay of the body, starting at the site of the bite. I also loved that the story went over different stages where the infected start out relatively healthy and normal, but eventually they begin to smell you as food and become more aggressive before they are completely gone. There are also some physical changes that the infected go through as the body decays. One classic zombie trait that the filmmakers kept, which I greatly appreciate, is that the zombies are slow moving. Fast zombies can be fun, but realistically it doesn’t make sense for a corpse to be running around at top speeds (rigor mortis, anyone?).
Maggie was definitely made to be more of a drama set in a zombie apocalypse than a true horror movie. That made the film especially effective. It is less about the flesh eating creatures lurking in the shadows and more about the people who are trying to get by in this new world. It especially focuses on the father-daughter relationship. It is hard to imagine what you would do if someone you loved was bitten. Would you hide them from the authorities? Would you do anything to protect them? When the time came would you put them out of their misery? Or worse, would you give them over to the quarantine? The only thing that bothered me about the storyline is that they never tell you how Maggie got bit by a zombie in the first place. They had occasional mini-flashbacks but nothing that truly explained what happened.
The acting in this film was also excellent. Abigail Breslin is one of the child stars who has been able to continue her career and show time and time again how talented she really is. Not only does Breslin portray what it is like to be a teen in this dark world, but she superbly goes through all the emotions of knowing you have a limited amount of time before becoming a zombie. I was also quite impressed with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting. Don’t get me wrong, I love most of his movies, but I have only ever seen him as an action star as opposed to a true actor. He proved me wrong in this film. Everything he did was understated, yet you felt his character’s struggle as he essentially watches his daughter go through a slow death. He did such a great job that I wasn’t even bothered by a midwestern farmer having a thick Austrian accent.
Considering the fact that this is a zombie film, albeit a dramatic zombie film, the makeup effects were very subtle and beautiful. There was only a bit of gore makeup, mostly with the infection site and when a zombie was put down. The makeup was primarily showing how the virus slowly spreads and kills the infected from the inside by creating a black-veined look on the skin. They also created a haunting look by making the eyes look like the infection decayed them as well. Overall the look was muted, but still created the intended effect of what a zombie would look like.
Maggie is definitely a must see movie of 2015. It does an excellent job of telling an effective story of strong family bonds, that just happens to involve zombies. The fact that it blurs the lines between multiple film genres also makes it a great film to watch, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy horror movies. Keep in mind when seeking this movie out that it is primarily a dramatic film. If you are looking for something with more scares or action, then this is not the film for you. I would recommend this film to practically any adult film lover because of its relatively simple storyline of a father-daughter relationship done in a very unique way.
OVERALL RATING: 8/10