2015 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: Zombies have been all the craze for quite sometime with shows like "The Walking Dead" and films like "World War Z" dominating the box office. I've never been such a fan of the genre as something about the undead just hunting on human flesh never seemed appealing. In Henry Hobson's "Maggie," where he recruits Arnold Schwarzenegger and Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin as a father- daughter pair that spend the final days together before the young Maggie transforms into a zombie is one of the more compelling works on the genre seen yet.
Charismatic and truly very moving at times, it's surprising to see where debut screenwriter John Scott 3 brings this compassionate tale. We're introduced to Maggie as her father Wade, just after finds her after a two-week search. She's brought to their farm home where her step-mother Caroline (played by Joely Richardson) and her two younger siblings reside. As Maggie's transformation is sure to become erratic and certain, the entire family sits on the edge as their beloved daughter deals with not only her changing self, but addressing the surroundings of her friends and a future that is now to never be.
In his most reserved and accessible performances of his career, Arnold Schwarzenegger proves what happens when you work with some of the most talented people in the business for decades. You're surely to pick up some of their ticks and beats. Internalized as any performance seen by an actor, Schwarzenegger digs deep to show the soul of a broken man, helpless against a virus that is taking away his most precious gift. In addition, he fights for his daughter's right to live out her final days from the local authorities who believe she must go to quarantine, where the infected are put to death. It's a shocking display of emotion from the former governor of California in what will surely be a talking piece of many following a viewing.
Oscar-nominee Abigail Breslin truly is a talent. "Zombieland," which many will think of based on themes, kept her at an arm's distance in terms of allowing the environment to reveal itself through her actions. In other zombie films and TV shows, the ongoing theme and narrative is survival. "Maggie" takes it in a different direction. You see the deterioration of not just the person's body, but their hopes and dreams. Breslin displays the broken heart of a girl who sees her former boyfriend get taken away despite pleading with his father to stay just one more day. You see the realization of her new self in the behaviors she acquires along the way. And most importantly, and probably the most heartbreaking, is in the final interactions with her friends and in the truth of a future that will never come. Breslin shines like no other. It's happy to see her stretching her acting capabilities at this point in her career.
The technical traits of "Maggie" are spot on for the most part thanks to director Hobson. In his feature directorial debut, Hobson hones in on the tone of an emotional drama, not a horror film with something extra to offer. I think back to something like M. Night Shymalan's "The Sixth Sense" when the thrill factor was secondary to its story and characters. Hobson captures most of those things. Cinematographer Lukas Ettlin paints the canvas beautifully as we've seen in other efforts like "The Lincoln Lawyer" and TV's "Black Sails."
"Maggie" is a moving drama. Echoing the moods of hard-hitting films but with the charisma of any entertaining blockbuster you would see this summer. It's well worth every dollar of an admission ticket and is one of the more enthralling and captivating films of the spring.
Review by Clayton Davis from the Internet Movie Database.