Directed by Henry Hobson
A father brings home his daughter Maggie who has been bitten and infected with an uncurable virus which causes its victims to turn into flesh-eating zombies. Knowing that he hasn’t got much time left with her before she turns, Wade wants Maggie to spend her final days at her family home with him and her step-mother who both love her dearly. When the day finally comes where Maggie will no longer be herself anymore, the father must decide whether to take her to quarantine, administer the lethal drug that will eventually kill her or finish her quickly himself.
We’re used to seeing zombie movies but none are quite like Henry Hobson’s debut feature effort, MAGGIE. This story focuses on the emotional heartbreak of having a sick child has on a family, especially as a parent, and how both the sick child and their family must come to terms with the illness and the inevitable death. With Maggie already infected as the film starts, the 90 minutes of the film explores these issues and poses the question “how would you react if the one you loved was terminally ill and there’s nothing you nor anyone else can do about it?”. Even though the virus in the film is one that turns its victims into zombies, it could just as well be a virus, disease or illness that is real as families with terminally ill children would face the same predicament and loss as seen by Wade in the film.
Arnold Schwarzenegger engages in a quiet, subdued performance as father Wade opposite Joely Richardson as wife Caroline and Abigail Breslin as daughter Maggie. Wade is a man of few words but it’s clear that his daughter is his world and the last thing he wants is for her to slowly die in quarantine with strangers, ripping the living flesh off each other. He loves Maggie and wants her to be at their family home, in an environment where she will know she’s loved and cared for and where hopefully she can live out her final days. However, this ideal isn’t exactly legit as the state police have a legal requirement to take any infected person, who has gone past a certain stage in their illness, to quarantine. Wade must not only do his best to protect his daughter during her illness but also from the harsh reality of the law.
Whilst MAGGIE certainly displays an interesting angle on the zombie genre, there’s actually not much content in the film to feel emotionally engaged in. With a film like this, you need to feel as though you can invest or connect to the characters and unfortunately I couldn’t with any of them, not even Maggie herself. The pace of the film is so slow and plodding that I found myself dozing off a couple of times and even though we get to see Arnie in a role as we’ve never seen him before, he’s not enough to save this film. A lack of proper drama and real heartfelt emotion means MAGGIE often feels quite empty and thus it’s hard to actual care about anyone in the film or what happens to them. A nice idea for a film but unfortunately not executed as well as I had hoped it would.