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Monday, December 5, 2016

Movie Review: Maggie (2015) and the A Bit on the Zombie Genre

 Starring: Abigail Breslin, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Written By: John Scott 3
Directed By: Henry Hobson
Release Date: May 8, 2015
Rating: B

My Thoughts: 
Maggie does something that you don't see often in your typical zombie movie 
and that's what makes it so special. What it lacks in blood, guts and gore, it 
makes up with it's heart. However, this film is not about survival, neither is it
about finding out how the outbreak happened. Maggie is about the bond 
between a father and daughter and what lengths a person would go through for 
the ones they love even though we know there's really nothing that can be done.
 We've seen the zombie film done time and time again both in the 
comedic form (Shaun of the Dead, Life After Beth, Zombieland), the dramatic 
form (The Walking Dead) and the action form (Resident Evil), but what many
 of these films fail to touch on is how the outbreak directly effects the victim
 of the virus and their loved ones and this is exactly one of the reasons why 
Maggie stands apart from the rest of these kinds of films within the
 zombie genre.
 
Maggie, our titular character, is played by Abigail Breslin and the film begins
 with her telling her father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) that she's been bitten and 
that he's not to come for her. However, he does. Once he finds her at the hospital,
he brings her home so that she can spend her last days with her
 family. The most important factor of this film is that Maggie is dying and
 there's no coming back from that. She will turn into a zombie
 and it's inevitable, which is why the film is a zombifilm
however, there's a bit more to this particular sub-genre than,
 that. Zombie films, while overtly disgusting and usually un-tasteful, constantly
 remind us our innate need to survive as a society. While most films within the
 genre build their worlds around this epidemic, the fall of society and the struggle
 to stay alive, Maggie takes a completely different route in exploring the
different aspects of the zombie film. While there's an apocalypse occurring in 
the film, Maggie and her family are isolated from everything going on. They're far
 enough from the city to live peacefully for a while. But for how long?  
Zombie films repeatedly revolve around the theme of survival and Maggie 
could've taken the route of the typical zombie film and made itself about 
an impending zombie attack on Maggie and her family. But it doesn't. It's about
 death, but more so about the acceptance of death. We understand that death
 is coming and we all know that one day we have to die because this is 
just a fact. However, as we we sit back and watch these characters in other 
zombie films try to survive, we're sucked in the more they get attacked. Why? 
Because like them, we want to survive. We want them to survive because 
that need is biologically embedded in us. And it's because we're so focused 
on them surviving, we tend to forget that everyone eventually dies. Whether 
it be by a zombie bite, a gunshot to the forehead or old age, these people are 
going to die and Maggie, however, is based around this fact. Though Maggie stil
has a bit of humanity left in her as she transforms and she can function like a 
human, the reality of the whole situation is told to us again and again. Maggie 
is going to die and there's nothing that can be done. She's accepted this fact,
 but her family, on the other hand, has not. 

Though we know little about Maggie and her family, we can see the toll that 
this virus has taken on them. Throwing out the idea that this film is a character
 study, like most other zombie films are, the point of it isn't to know these 
characters personally. Why? Because they're going to die, so the film doesn't 
need to create these in-depth introductions.We aren't supposed to explore their
 lives, partially because this epidemic has fully changed them to the point of
 no return. They're no longer the people they were, so the film strictly focuses
 on their interactions in the present with their dying daughter and how she
 lives out her last few days as a human. We get a bit of exposition simply 
because we need some sort of connection with these people, but, again, it's not 
the point on the film. It's striving to prove that there's more than guts, blood 
and other horrific elements to the zombie film. And it's as Maggie becomes more 
zombie-like that film transforms into the horror film it's advertised as, as most
if not all, zombie films are. There's guns, violence and blood and although
 the film is already slow,the further along she is in her transformation, the slower
 the film becomes. And the more grotesque and violent Maggie becomes, 
the more unnerved we are as every scene is ambianced with soft, unsettling 
music and even though Maggie hasn't completely gone full-on zombie, we
 know it's eventually going to happen and the scariest part is that we don't know 
when it's going to happen. Throughout the first half of the film, Maggie's parents
 ignore her virus. They know it's there, but they cover her wounds up with
bandages and even Maggie wears sunglasses to cover up her newly turned icy-blue 
eyes, but soon it gets to the point where we can't ignore Maggie's transformation.
And as Maggie slumps around the house, we're more uncomfortable that at any 
moment she's going to hurt someone rather than about the fact she's going to die. 

While there's an importance on death in this film, there's more of an
 importance about the acceptance of death. Again, everyone knows Maggie is 
going to die, they just choose to try and ignore it until it happens, so Maggie 
takes things into her own hands and jumps off the roof. In a beautiful, fluid 
scene we don't see Maggie actually die, but we see the parts of her we didn't 
really get to explore of her life when she was alive. As Maggie frolicks through 
the flowers with he mother, we realize that not only is death inevitable, but there's
 also a beauty in it as well.

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