Henry Hobson’s Maggie is a welcome surprise for the zombie genre and Arnold Shwarzenegger fans alike. The debut feature from Hobson, and his scribe John Scott 3, is an intimate portrayal of living with terminal illness, centred around two great performances.There’s none of the usual narrative fixtures you might expect, which could scare off hard-core genre fans gagging for some blood-drenched action. Shwarzenegger – the seemingly unstoppable action superstar – is dropped into a situation his CV hasn’t prepared him for, clearly flexing muscles he hasn’t for years, if at all, whilst coping with the slow death of his daughter (Abigail Breslin) in an almost unbearably grim atmosphere. It’s a far cry from the bombastic action adventures he’s been on since his return to the limelight. Like The Road, Maggie is a story without a happy resolve; it’s a narrative about living with the inevitability of death where no amount of muscle can save you.
Shwarzenegger pulls it out the bag, but so does Breslin. The two have a great on screen relationship, but seem stronger on their own at many points. The script is best when its delving into unmined aspects of Zombie cinema, and most dull when it gets bogged down in sorrow porn. This is a world where people take ages to succumb to their bites, so Maggie gets a chance to explore Post-Traumatic stress from its titular character’s attack. Nightmare sequences draw the zombie who bit Maggie out of animosity and do a great job at reminding the audience just how terrifying the undead can be. It’s a great move but one that could have been better exploited with more screen time.
This is a grotesque fairy tale, more cancer drama than zombie film, about a father and daughter fighting the inevitability of aging and death, it’s also a story about a powerful action star, turned-politician, turned actor dealing with a problem he can never solve. Heart breaking, with an inconsistent, but impressive, eye for image, and a love for the genre, Maggie is the most touching zombie film you’ll see this year.
Director: Henry Hobson
Stars: Arnold Shwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson