Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Jodie Moore, Joely Richardson
Directed by Henry Hobson
Arnold Schwarzenegger has battled everything from time-traveling terminators to alien predators and even Satan, but now he’s going head-to-head with a bloodthirsty zombie – his character Wade’s own daughter, Maggie (Abigail Breslin).
In this dull, dreary mishmash of a world — where some people use rotary dial phones and others use smart devices, and some zombies are soulless killers while others are barely affected — there’s been an outbreak. It’s more like a disease in the medical sense than in the usual undead movie milieu, and it’s definitely more melodrama than meaty horror.
We do see a couple of attacks, and there are a few (very few) jump scares, but mostly it’s Maggie and her dad moping around a dreary, dusty farmhouse waiting for the inevitable “turn” that will take the young teen’s life for good. They call it the “necroambulist virus,” and occasionally a doctor (Jodie Moore) pops up to spout some expository dialogue.
Maggie’s been described by its makers as a “slow burn,” but it’s just slow. There’s an awful lot of buildup and foreshadowing, then no payoff whatsoever. The film ends with a whimper rather than a shot to the head. I don’t say that to be spoilery or snide; I’m just telling it like it is, and I’m not revealing anything that other critics haven’t (the film had its world premiere last night at Tribeca).
The acting is good. Breslin is always aces of course, but some might be surprised that Schwarzenegger is decent, too, as the troubled widower who knows he’s soon to lose his only child. Unfortunately, all the able performances can’t make up for a boring script and inert direction. It almost feels like a TV movie-of-the-week in which a terminally ill daughter comes home to die, and then someone decided, “Hey, let’s make the disease a zombie virus!”
While Maggie is not terrible, it’s bound to be a disappointment to the fans of horror and action it’s trying to attract.