Sunday, May 1, 2016

Horror Film Review

Maggie (2015):  Schwarzenegger battling zombies...what could possibly beat that?  Unfortunately, quite a lot.  That's not to say this is a crap movie, far from it.  It's just not wise-cracking, arsenal-toting Arnie in full on, kill fucking everything mode.  Think more Atticus Finch or Charles Ingalls than the Terminator.  And surprisingly, that's not a bad thing.  If you like gobs of soul-wrenching pathos, that is.

A viral outbreak has ravaged the nation.  Those infected sicken and eventually turn over a period of weeks.  New laws dictate that once the final symptoms appear, the afflicted must be taken to quarantine, a draconian setting in which excruciating euthanasia is the final solution.  Wade (Arnold), a poor farmer, travels to the big city (I think Kansas City) to retrieve his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) after a two week search.  Why was she there?  We're not told.  Unfortunately, she's been bitten and infected and therefore fucked.  He takes her home for her remaining days, which aren't many.  When a neighboring farmer breaks the law by keeping her turned family members locked up, Wade is forced to kill them after they escape.  The local cops then take the opportunity to remind Wade he can't do that with Maggie.  The family doctor advises Wade that the humane course of action is to put a bullet in her head.  This is not a Disney movie, folks.

Maggie gets worse, Wade agonizes, but in the end, she takes the decision regarding her fate out of his hands.  From the first act, we know she'll die.  Despite this non-spoiler, the final scene is still bursting with tension and dread.  You (or maybe just me) always think a they'll suddenly find a cure or some kind of miracle will prevent the inevitable.  That hope never once entered my mind.  I'm still not quite sure how I feel about that.

The Skinny

Acting:  Arguably Schwarzenegger's best performance...ever.  Seriously, the big guy is very, very good.  Breslin, as usual, knocks it out of the park.
Story:  The most personal zombie story I've even seen.  It's got the feel of the most heartbreaking Walking Dead script.
Direction:  This is not an action flick so some will bitch about the pacing.  To these people I say, shut up.
Production Values:  The budget was less than $10 million, ridiculously cheap given the star power involved.  Not one aspect of the production was cheap, though.
Gore/FX:  Folks in the final throes of the disease are pretty gross.  Not much blood.  No CGI to speak of.
Scares:  Yes, but not what you'd expect.
Ending:  What you'd expect.  Couldn't end any other way.
Verdict:  Should you see Maggie?  You should.  It's worth it for Arnold's portrayal of Wade alone.

Rating:  4 out of 5

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