Director: Henry Hobson
It’s been 10 years since Arnold has done any movies except the worst movies in the world. And by that, of course, I mean The Expendables series. Oh, and he also did a few other terrible action movies that only genre aficionados could enjoy. No, the famous actor/politician hasn’t been doing anything serious lately, although you could argue that he never has. So Maggie comes as a surprise, especially when you hear the premise. It’s a zombie movie, which means a ton of action, walking dead, and badassery, right? Nope, the opposite. Maggie is a drama through & through, a dark one that, a highly introspective & sensationalized dramatic story about a father & a daughter, their struggle, and the desire for survival in a failing world. Credit Arnold with taking on such an emotional film. Too bad it’s too terrible to watch.
After a widespread disease that slowly turns humans into cannibalistic zombies, the world is in one hell of a tight spot. The human population is reduced, power is off, there’s no longer any global panic, but communities must fend for themselves. The cities have curfews, towns have local police, infected humans must be monitored, and ultimately all zombies must die. This includes Maggie, a teenager who was recently bitten. Her father, Wade, brings her home despite knowing what she’ll become, not willing to spend the next few weeks wondering how terribly she will die. He has three options facing him in a month: send her to Quarantine, give her an injection that will take her life, or do it himself. Not a choice any father wants to make, but there’s no getting around the fact that she will die, the only question is how.
Rarely have I wanted to leave a theatre before the film was over. I didn’t, I don’t think I ever have, but I really, really wanted to. And it’s not that my taste or morals were offended, it was my senses that were taking a hit. The film was intentionally sensational, and by that I mean it relied on my physical reactions more than my mental. It was dark in both content and visuals, with muted color, blocked light, and of course a horribly morbid story. And the sound, the sound, oh the sound. Every scrape, creak, grunt, huff, splat, drip, and rustle was presented as loudly as possible, forcing my senses into a heightened state, making me uncomfortable on purpose. I get the point; use myself against myself, scare me with my own senses instead of with zombie surprises. But I hated it, I really did, and I didn’t want that done to me.
Maybe, had the movie/story/plot/acting been wonderful, I wouldn’t have minded the style in which the film was delivered. I could have forgiven being made to feel bad because the product was so good. But no, it wasn’t. First off, the way they got around the fact that Arnold can’t act is by not making him do it. Instead, he often stood quietly with no expression on his face. That’s a method, I guess, though an odd one. When he was called on to say something I always wondered why there was an Austrian named Wade living on a country farm somewhere in Missouri or wherever they were. Joely Richardson decided to do a fake accent instead, even though she’s English, attempting a down-home drawl that sounded pretty stupid. And Abigail Breslin might have been the bright ray of talent in the film, but even that felt awkward, and I didn’t want to see Olive Hoover eat people. In the end, the movie was boring, overly-dark, not captivating at all, badly directed by an amateur, and cast with mediocre talent. Both its sensational style & structural pieces were nothing I would ever want to see again.
My rating: ☆