Weekly Review: Maggie (2015)

After his daughter is infected with a zombie virus, a father will do everything he can to protect her, whether that be from the virus itself or the people who want to kill her for it.

I first encountered Maggie on a shelf at Walmart. I’m a fan of zombie movies, so I was intrigued by the premise. Based on the cover art and the plot synopsis, it looked like this particular movie was going to take a different approach to the whole zombie thing. I was definitely interested, but I didn’t get around to actually seeing the movie until much later.

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For the most part, it looks like Maggie was a first time effort for the director Henry Hobson and the writer John Scott 3. I say this because I can’t find much on them with a Google search. Apparently Maggie was supposed to make its debut at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, but after the rights were purchased by Lionsgate, it was pulled from that line-up. Instead, it debuted at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival before receiving a limited theatrical release and eventually being released on VOD.

I was not incorrect with my initial thoughts on the premise of Maggie. It does attempt to take a different approach at the typical zombie lore. While most zombie movies attempt to take a campy approach at the sub-genre, Maggie takes a tone that is much more somber. This dark tone can be seen figuratively through the story, but also literally through the color grading used throughout. The overall look of the film is very grey, not very visually appealing. It’s typical of a lot of post-apocalyptic movies to do this, but that doesn’t make it a good choice by any means.

Rather than being a typical zombie movie, this particular feature focuses on the struggle of those who contract the zombie virus, known in the movie as necroambulist virus. It also focuses on the emotional struggles of the infected’s loved ones. Usually in zombie movies, a person is infected and immediately executed, or their infection is kept a secret until they turn and jeopardize the safety of the group. More often than not, a person isn’t even infected. They’re just devoured immediately. In any case, most zombie movies don’t typically look at the thought process of an infected person who knows what they will become, at least, not to the extent that Maggie does.

Maggie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the struggling father and Abigail Breslin as the titular Maggie, a teenaged girl who sees her life cut short in quite a disturbing way. The standout performance for this movie is definitely with Breslin. She portrays a young woman who is simultaneously terrified while also trying to be strong for her family’s sake. I found her portrayal very relatable. Schwarzenegger’s role in this movie marks a big change for him. It completely strips him of the action persona that he has portrayed throughout his career. While his performance isn’t the best here, I thought it showed a good amount of restraint for a movie like this.

I mentioned earlier that the color grading decisions for Maggie were decisions that I didn’t necessarily agree with. I understand the idea of it, but with such a somber movie, I felt that the lack of color was unnecessary. It would have been nice to see something a little more vibrant. I will say that the overall grey tone worked really well with the zombie make-up.

It’s incredibly hard right now to make a zombie movie that really stands out. The Walking Dead has definitely sucked the well dry over the last several years, and I don’t know when or how zombie movies will ever really be considered innovative again. While Maggie does take a different approach, it still is covering the same lore and not really introducing anything new.

That being said, as a fan of zombie movies, I was pleasantly surprised by Maggie. If you’re a fan of most things zombie, then you might be pleasantly surprised too. If you’re not usually a fan of zombie movies, you may find yourself intrigued by the emotional story throughout Maggie. It was a welcomed change of pace from the typical zombie movie. I consider it a nice little gem that I would most likely purchase if given the chance again.

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