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Maggie isn't a typical zombie movie. It's better. However, there's very little zombie action in this zombie movie at all, except in part to show you Maggie's dire fate. This is a character-driven, simmering horror that deliberately focuses on how the agonizingly slow viral gestation period spanning from being a conscious person to becoming an empty predatory corpse emotionally affects those infected as well as their loved ones. Remove the zombie element entirely and you have a movie dramatizing the very real trauma experienced by victims and their families stricken by a killing virus such as Ebola or AIDS. Any innocent touched by this unyielding poison is considered tainted or toxic to humanity.
In the film, Wade finds Maggie in a nearby city hospital two weeks after her being attacked and infected spurs Maggie to run away from her rural home. The administering doctor knows them and, instead of following strict policy and shunting her into quarantine, he releases Maggie on compassionate grounds out of respect for Wade's first wife. At home, under the uneasy watch of Wade's second wife Caroline (played by Joely Richardson), Maggie attempts to feel human again by reconnecting with her high school friends and rekindling her friendship with Trent (Bryce Romero) - a teen who is also visibly infected with the zombie virus. Things soon go from manageably bad to unimaginably grim and bloody.
Breslin pulls in an astonishing performance throughout, portraying Maggie as a teen notably mature beyond her years out of necessity who still struggles to maintain a fragile emotional normalcy against her doomed reality. Maggie ran away to protect her loved ones from the time bomb of uncontrollable terror she knows she will become, and so fears for them now that she's back. Also impressive are Arnold Schwarzenegger's predominantly internalized yet satisfying efforts here as a quietly strong man trying to do right by his daughter while gutted by his mourning for her. Unexpectedly playing against a successful 30-year typecast is ballsy, but it makes perfect sense for him here. This movie breaks the mold too, by boldly pushing the zombie cinematic sub-genre beyond its usual ghoulish shtick of random bitey baddies.
If you love zombie movies full of screaming and gore, you'll probably find this measured-paced horror flick to be a boring sit-through. However, absolutely see Maggie if you enjoy discovering an intriguing, well-crafted big screen story that features memorably great performances and breathes new life into the long-familiar movie realm of the walking dead. Awesome. Reviewed 05/15, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
Maggie is rated 14A by the Ontario
Film Review Board, citing occasional gory/grotesque images, use
of expletives, occasional upsetting or disturbing scenes, embracing
and kissing, tobacco use and restrained portrayals of non-graphic
violence, and is rated 13+ by la Régie du Cinéma
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