This is the first in a series of “You Probably Missed It” reviews, highlighting non-blockbuster films which you likely never saw or even heard of, but just might be worth seeking out.
Maggie is a small-budget independent zombie film starring a little-known Austrian-born actor named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whatever you might have imagined when you read the words “zombie film” and “Schwarzenegger” together in the same sentence, just forget it. This isn’t that film.
Instead, Maggie is a decidedly small, explosion-free story of loss which occurs at a refreshing point in the well-worn zombie apocalypse timeline — when the apocalypse is nearly contained and resolved. There’s no cure, but the infected seem to have been almost entirely eliminated or corralled into isolation facilities until their inevitable demise. There are a few infected still roaming like rabid animals, but they’re quickly hunted down and killed, and society is on the mend.
Unfortunately for Ahhhnold, his daughter was scratched by one of these remaining rogue zombies and there’s no way to prevent the inevitable — she’ll be a zombie within a few weeks.
But lucky for this midwestern farmer and father of three, he’s longtime friends with the head doctor at the clinic where his daughter, Maggie, was diagnosed. His friend/doctor permits him to take Maggie home and spend some quality time over the last few weeks of her life, although he warns that she’ll start to show symptoms well before the transformation is complete. Then, he’s instructed, that he needs to either bring Maggie back in for quarantine, or “take care of it yourself.”
Ultimately Maggie uses the zombie infection as a fascinating allegory for terminal illness or home hospice care. But rather than its title character fading and becoming more frail as the disease progresses, she instead is becoming less like herself and more dangerous.
Plus, Arnold gets a chance to just act without all of the spectacle — and he’s not half bad. Despite his always-distracting thick accent, on a canvas this small he seems to have been given an opportunity to deliver a real performance without the requirement to insert any of the now mandatory self-aware schtick so common to his action fare. (I’ll be back!)
I found Maggie to be refreshing for its new look at the zombie genre and a slow-paced opportunity for Schwarzenegger to be an actor rather than an action prop.
Give it a shot and see, then post your findings in the comments below.