There once was a time when film geeks everywhere would have jumped for joy at the thought of Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in a zombie movie. However, with his glory days in cinema long gone and the zombie genre getting more and more tired with each cry for brains, Maggie (2015) is seemingly coming in under the radar of most horror fans. So, just how does the former (and soon-to-be-again) terminator fare in the land of the living dead?
Maggie is currently making the rounds in limited first-run in theaters while also being available through the various on-demand sources. Arnold’s grand return to the cinema post governator days has been mostly forgettable, so his name doesn’t necessarily pack the heat it once did. And to be honest, he really is secondary to Abigail Breslin (Zombieland), the real star of the film. Breslin is young Maggie Vogel, who is seen in the opening moments of the movie calling her dad Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger) while in a city with a curfew. Society is beginning to fall apart due to the Necroambulist virus, which essentially turns victims into zombies. There is no cure and, once infected, you are taken to hospitals with others to die.
Wade arrives at the hospital to get Maggie, who has been bitten on the arm. The doctor allows Wade to take his daughter home with the agreement that once she starts to change, he has to turn her in. From here, the movie progresses as it focuses on Maggie’s slow decline and transformation, and the impact it has on her family, primarily her father. We question whether Wade will be able to do the right thing or if he succumbs to his own desires to keep his daughter safe for as long as possible.
Schwarzenegger gives us a very subtle and, at times, very emotional performance. You can see his anguish as he tries to hold on to what his daughter used to be. Unfortunately, some of these scenes expose his lack of acting depth. He has very little to really do in the film but overall, he does well with what he has. Breslin’s performance is what saves the movie from mediocrity as you can really feel her pain as she slowly witnesses her world slip away. The scenes with her friend are especially hard-hitting as we witness the human side of becoming a zombie, something usually dismissed in movies, although occasionally discussed on The Walking Dead. While it would have been interesting to see Chloe Grace-Moretz as Maggie, who was rumored to have been the originally choice, Breslin still manages to steal the show.
Despite the interesting premise and well-known main star, Maggie suffers from a lack of anything really exciting to watch. There are a couple of the usual zombie scenes but they are intended to be secondary to the main story. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough story here to make a 95 minute movie. This would have worked so much better as a short film or part of an anthology. As it is, the film tends to be a little dull at times.
I’ll recommend Maggie for something different, especially if you are a fan of zombie movies or Arnold, who really does more with this role than we should expect at this point of his career. However, you might want to hold off until you can catch this as a cheap rental or on a late night TV viewing. Check out the trailer and decide for yourself. It’s not bad, but leaves you either wanting more of a story or less of a running time.
Monster Movie Kid will be quiet for a few weeks as my wife and I move into a new townhome in another part of Kansas City. Once the dust settles, it will be time to revisit my theme month ideas that have been placed on hold for the last several months. Thank you for your patience! Fear not true believers, there is some fun monster goodness coming up this summer!