Movie Review: 'Maggie', a Zombie Movie
“Maggie” is a 2015 zombie movie that stars Arnold Schwarzenegger along with a small cast of engaging characters. "Maggie" is a low budget but high quality zombie movie that focuses on the emotional toll the zombie apocalypse causes for the dying and those left behind. What are the points for and against this zombie movie?
Maggie is set in a world where the zombie virus infects people slowly, necrotizing limbs while eroding their intelligence and self-control. But unlike the world of "28 Days Later", the infected can live days or weeks before they might attack family and strangers alike.
Their world has determined the burn rate of cases and allows families to keep infected relatives for a time before they become too dangerous, at which time they are carted them off to “treatment centers” where they deteriorate until killed or commit suicide. Their world has recovered enough from the zombie apocalypse that they have hospital wards dedicated to processing bite victims, procedures for handling them, regular check-ups of the bitten and quarantine/holding facilities for those in the final stages.
Most of the movie takes place on the family farm and surrounding area.
The Core Characters
Maggie is the eldest daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character and only child by his first wife. He has two younger children by his second wife. The girl runs off to the city to scavenge and gets bit. Her father had been looking for her, hoping she wouldn’t be infected. He ends up picking her up from the infected ward and taking her home.
The stepmother Caroline is well realized by the actress, who acts immediately to protect her own children from Maggie’s infection, then struggles to support her husband Wade and step-daughter.
Maggie’s boyfriend turns out to be bitten, somewhat more advanced than her own case, foreshadowing her own likely fate.
The Strengths of This Movie
It was surprising how well Arnold Schwarzenegger could play the role of the emotionally torn father. He doesn’t want to face her impending death, even when given repeated advice to kill her at home instead of sending her to the treatment center. He struggles soulfully with her deterioration, grieving his eldest child while trying to keep alive the memories of her dead mother. He has to put down several zombies that wander up to the property, while instinctively protecting a daughter not far from their state. You see those who try to protect their family members from being taken and those who send them away, grateful for the few controlled weeks in which to say goodbye and settle affairs. Schwarzenegger demonstrated he could act, showing emotions from grief to worry to tearful reunions.
The young woman who plays the title character demonstrates her acting ability, from struggling to reconnect with friends and boyfriend to acts of uncontrolled savagery and the horrors upon regaining mental clarity in the aftermath to grieving her dead mother while facing her own death.
While the threat of zombies is clear, the movie doesn’t focus on extensive gore, but the emotional carnage. You see a few zombies, you see them dealt with, but you also see those who couldn’t put down an infected child or break down after killing an infected neighbor, the desperate pleading for the person to speak and prove that they still have self-control and don’t have to be die today.
The ending of the movie featured a creepy scene that could have been the ending foreshadowed heavily in the movie, before taking a turn in favor of self-determination and kindness for those left behind.
The Weaknesses of This Movie
The local deputies in the movie “Maggie” were tropes in the 1970s, the small town sheriffs who set the rules and try to do as they please because they are the ultimate authority. You get a bad guy who wants to kill the infected immediately and has no mercy, ostensibly the bad guy, until you realize that the cities are largely depopulated because of the plague while the rural areas still put down zombies on a regular basis. The good guy cop waffles, torn between sympathy and duty, unable to make a decision in some cases but supposedly the good guy because he’s reluctant to kill the infected.
The small town doctor is also a trope out of the 1960s and 1970s. The hospital staff defer to him, instead of the other way around. He has a good bedside manner but dispenses as much folksy advice as medication.
If you want a closer to home, human-centered drama set in a post-apocalyptic world, “Maggie” is a pleasant alternative to movies like “World War Z” and “28 Days Later”. This is a four star zombie movie, and while not family friendly fare, it is a good choice for those who want to see life after the zombies arose without living in a Mad-Max style wasteland.