dir Henry Hobson
scr John Scott 3
prd Colin Bates, Joey Tufaro, Matthew Baer, Bill Johnson, Ara Keshishian, Trevor Kaufman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, Douglas M Griffin, JD Evermore, Bryce Romero, Raeden Greer, Rachel Whitman Groves, Jodie Moore, Mattie Liptak, Aiden Flowers, Carsen Flowers
release US 8.May.15, UK 17.Jul.15
15/US Lionsgate 1h35
Desperate dad: Schwarzenegger and Breslin

schwarzenegger breslin richardson
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Maggie This film does for zombie movies what Let the Right One In did for the vampire genre, taking a dark, dramatic approach that focusses on emotion rather than walking-dead action. It also offers Schwarzenegger a chance to shine in a rare low-key, serious role. This doesn't mean there isn't some traditional undead nastiness, but the audience is more likely to be moved to tears than anything else.

Across America crops are dying as people are infected with a disease that results in "the turn". After his teen daughter Maggie (Breslin) goes is infected, Wade (Schwarzenegger) brings her home to his second wife Caroline (Richardson), who helps him care for her. Maggie tries to avoid her friends, but best pal Allie (Greer) drags her out for a night with the boys (Romero and Liptak). Although as Maggie's symptoms get more serious, Caroline is increasingly terrified to have her in the house. And Wade simply can't bear to send her to quarantine.

The film is so relentlessly grim that it feels elegiac, achingly yearning for a lost life. First-time director Hobson creates the setting subtly, using effective locations to depict a civilisation fighting something it can't hope to survive. It's beautifully shot, packed with superbly intense moments and accompanied by a lovely score by David Wingo. This creates powerfully raw emotions as the tone gets darker and darker, going further into the heads of the characters.

Schwarzenegger is surprisingly good as this strong, quiet, intelligent man who won't give up on his daughter. He and Richardson are sympathetic as parents dealing in their own imperfect ways with Maggie's terminal illness, which almost makes the collapse of their community feel irrelevant to them. Both give riveting, tenacious performances. As does Breslin, excellent as a teen who hates seeing what this is doing to people she loves.

Sometimes the gloominess is overpowering, echoed in heavy skies, parched farmland, derelict houses, creeping black skin, terrified glances from strangers and looks of pity from friends. Amid this, desire for normality is unstoppable, and it certainly isn't easy to give up on relationships. Thankfully, there are also moments of raucous humour, earthy interaction and wrenching tenderness when we least expect them. But what's most remarkable is that in the end, we're so caught up in the emotions that we forget the genre this film technically belongs to.

cert 12 themes, language, violence, grisliness 9.May.15

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