So, here’s another of those film’s that been on my watch-list ever since the trailer dropped. I finally traced down a copy from the library and sat myself down with it this afternoon. Going in, I had high hopes – I’d read a lot of positive reviews for Maggie, and the production stills I’d seen had an interesting, almost southern-gothic feel to them.
Then I actually watched the damn thing, and….
Yeah. It didn’t really work for me. Part of this comes from my inability to take Arnold Schwarzenegger seriously in a drama, and his massive presence in a film that’s trying so desperately to be small. Though fairly standard as far as zombie flicks go, Maggie never really describes what caused this particular apocalypse, opting instead to focus on the story of the Vogel family after their oldest daughter is infected. Through a longstanding friendship with the quarantine doctor, the titular Maggie is allowed to return home to die among her family. It’s a decent premise, and would have worked with a different cast, and a more realistic portrayal of rural life. For a film set primarily on a farm, Maggie doesn’t seem to understand how these things are operated, how farmers live, and what their homes look like. There were several scenes that had me convinced I was watching a period picture, instead of something set in the present. Maggie’s set design reminded me strongly of the Depression and the Dust Bowl, only with a few cellphones thrown in for good measure. It’s a remarkably dreary film, even considering the subject matter, and never quite strikes the right emotional cord to really say anything of meaning. Certainly the characters have interesting things to say, and the metaphor of zombies and real life infectious disease hasn’t lost any of it’s power, but rather that Maggie has an eight-year-old sprouting philosophical one-liners about morality and dying on your own terms. I can only suspend my disbelief for so long.
Granted, this is my personal opinion. A lot of people love this movie. Certainly it had its moments – the conversation between Wade and his neighbor in the woods was haunting and tense in just the right ways – but the production as a whole missed the mark.