My Review of MAGGIE, A Film about Zombies…and Life

SPOILER ALERT….PLOT DETAILS ARE TALKED ABOUT

Touching, moving, and sensitive are not words I’ve ever used describing a zombie movie. They also are not usually what I look for in a zombie movie. I remember seeing World War Z and thinking… “Now THATs a Zombie Movie”.
You also don’t usually associate those with the roles of Arnold Schwarzenegger …so, when you combine an action hero fond of doing mass damage, and a genre with scenes of the living dead consuming people’s internal organs, you might expect gore and several heads getting removed with various implements.

Delightfully, this movie went in a totally unexpected direction. It has become one of my favorite movies since I saw it last night, because, not only is it well done (I think it’s some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best acting to date), but it is not just about zombies, but has emotional and moral applications to many other situations.

Basically, instead of dealing with bands of normal humans cutting their way through ravenous zombies, it treats zombieism as if it were a disease, being transmitted through being bitten, and the impact it would have on one family and on the families immediately around them.

The film was directed by Henry Hobson, written by John Scott III, and occurs in a post-apocalyptic world, in the heart of the USA, the Midwest.  Maggie Vogel is a young girl who is being raised by a single father, Wade. Her mother has died before the film begins. Maggie is trapped in the city after a curfew begins, and her father goes to get her, and brings her home to be with him and his new wife , Caroline, Maggie’s stepmother.

As the plot progresses, we see other families who have members who are becoming zombies, families who must make the ultimate decision….knowing that the disease has only one direction, what point do they do the unthinkable….end their loved ones life. Some wait too long, locking their family members in the house, who then get out and have to be dealt with by the community at large. We see that for the non-relatives, the choice is not so emotional nor hard. They want the infected to either be quarantined, or shot.

In this video, the difference is that the disease of becoming a zombie, like other terminal illnesses, does not happen in seconds, but slowly progresses…with people going through physical and emotional changes. We see how the infected are treated…shunned and treated as minorities were in the past.

For the infected, their choices are limited. They can go to “quarantine” in which those who still are mostly human, are thrown in with people with different phases of the disease, some being full blown zombies who can attack and eat them. They can do nothing…and go through intense mental anguish, physical pain, and the horrors of knowing that at some point, they will become a serious threat to their loved ones lives, or thirdly, someone, either they themselves or their loved ones, can end their life before it gets too far.

There are actually very few incidents in the movie in which Arnold as Wade, has to dispatch zombies, and he does it because there is no other choice. Thus, he is a man who is strong, capable of doing the job, but in the end, his love for his daughter makes the act of using a shotgun to kill her, no matter whether she becomes a threat to him or not, impossible.

I say that this is not just a “zombie film” because it deals, in a sensitive manner, with the broader topic of folks with loved ones with terminal illnesses who must make the decision for that loved one, at what time do I say, end their life…they have suffered too much. It’s easy for  those not emotionally invested in the life of a loved one to urge you to end that person’s life saying “It’s time”…but it’s a different matter when it’s your last relative, someone you love with all your heart.

I identified with Arnold’s character Wade. Truth is, were I in his shoes, I would have acted exactly as he did. He has immense pressure from his life long friends in the community to either send his daughter to quarantine or to personally end her life. It is a small farming community where these people have grown up around and with each other. Luckily for him, Wade is friends with the town doctor show buys the daughter more time to say her goodbyes to her father and friends, but also gives Wade two options…a “cocktail” of drugs in injection form that they give at the quarantine sites, but urges him to use the shotgun instead.

Maggie spares her dad the agonizing choice of acting or not acting. When she progresses almost to the point of losing her last vestige of humanity, she makes the choice to end her own life.

The lighting, direction, were all very well done. It does place you right there in this little Midwestern town where there are no “hordes of the undead” on the move, but families with loved ones who have a terminal disease of which, the medical community knows very little, and has no cure.

So I give MAGGIE high ratings for originality, acting, dealing with a much worked topic in a new and realistic way. I feel it is a film worth seeing, and it leaves you asking yourself, if your loved one was infected, what would you do.

*****

CAST

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as Wade Vogel
  • Abigail Breslin as Maggie Vogel
  • Joely Richardson as Caroline Vogel
  • Douglas M. Griffin as Ray
  • J.D. Evermore as Holt
  • Rachel Whitman Groves as Bonnie
  • Jodie Moore as Dr. Vern Kaplan
  • Bryce Romero as Trent
  • Raeden Greer as Allie
  • Aiden Flowers as Bobby Vogel
  • Carsen Flowers as Molly Vogel
  • Carsen Flowers as Molly Vogel
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