When your child is sick you feel helpless, but when your child is dying a part of you is too. Boiled down, that’s what “Maggie” is, or should be about. If director Henry Hobson and writer John Scott III focused on that phrase, then the film wouldn’t have been an average tale with a small twist on the zombie genre. It could possibly have been a movie that people would be talking about in early 2016!
There’s nothing more powerful than a parent’s love for their child. Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a small town farmer, has spent weeks out in the zombie-ravaged city searching for his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin). He brings her back home after finding her in a hospital with an oozing zombie bite.
With limited time until she “turns”, Wade must decide what he will do once she turns into a zombie and Maggie has to deal with her “death sentence”. Most bite victims in town are taken away during the last couple of weeks before they turn or are killed, and the local police make sure Wade knows Maggie is no special case. Maggie’s step mom, Caroline (Joely Richardson) is equally skeptical of Wade’s decision but supports it with both eyes open.
The anticipation of the end and the journey to get there has all the makings of a suspenseful, slow burn drama. Unfortunately, it derails a third of the way into the film. As Maggie deals with the loneliness of exile, she reaches out to Trent (Bryce Romero) an old flame further along in the turn then she is. Rather than keeping the drama to an intimate family problem, we’re forced to watch Maggie and her teen friends that we don’t care about deal with the turn.
You can tell that Arnold dug deep for this performance, and while his dialogue and acting is still stiff at times, he certainly displays his internal conflict in his eyes. Breslin, on the other hand, seems to be swallowed by the character and disconnected from emotional gravity of the situation, which results in an awkward performance. Sure, she’s a teenager and teenager’s emotions are all over the place, but even a teenager can pinpoint and articulate their feelings verbally and nonverbally.
“Maggie” has moments of emotional significance that if explored further would have made it a better film. While on the surface it’s about a parent’s love, when the film plays out, it doesn’t quite tap into that power. Instead, it is an interesting concept that missed the mark.