CAST: Abigail Breslin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joely Richardson, Laura Cayoutte, Denise Williamson, Raeden Greer
DIRECTOR: Henry Hobson
WRITER: John Scott
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lukas Ettlin
Zombies are either hilarious or horrific; these rotten rock stars cannot pull off dramatic. It is rather a stretch to develop a necrotic drama, since the lead character is expected to snarl, lumber, and eat brains. Dull, dour, and disjointed Maggie tries to break convention with a teen angst-filled undead drama and fails.
Maggie (Breslin) receives medical treatment after a necronambulist bit her arm. Though her condition is critical, her father Wade (Schwarzenneger) refuses to send her to quarantine. Wade would rather have her daughter in his house and live a normal life. As Maggie deteriorates, she tries her best to hold on to her remaining strength and the unconditional love of his father.
Unless I misheard or missed it altogether, “zombie” was never mentioned in the entire film, which bothered me quite a bit. It is as if the filmmakers are embarrass about the genre. Rotters are still in-demand; so unfurl the flags and take some shambling pride. (“Necronambulist” sounds too pretentious for a movie which never even bothered to explain how the infection started and how it is treated.) The biggest problem I had with the film is this: Maggie could either be a cancer-stricken patient, a drug addict, or a suicidal teenager instead of a zombie and the result is still the same. She just happened to be a zombie (or a necronambulist) but her thoughts, concerns, and problems are not exclusive to zed heads. Remove the decomposing flesh and she is nothing but an angst-filled teenager. I am not sure if the filmmaker is going all-out for this kind of character but he could have done something more with the nerconambulist-plagued Midwestern setting. One will mistake it for a tranquil rural area if not for radio clips and subtle hints. Kids still hangout around a campfire at night despite rumors about roaming cannibal corpses. Lacking coherent visuals, except for abandoned convenient stores and damaged crop fields, it is hard to determine the extent of the epidemic.
Despite an affecting turn as the father of Maggie, I found Schwarzenneger’s character disturbing. His constant rejection of quarantine, places the rest of his family and their neighborhood in danger. I understand he loves Maggie but putting other people in danger is not a judicious decision. (One of the better moments of this clunker is when Maggie’s stepmother found herself alone with her when she started developing heightened senses — a clear sign of necronambulism. Richardson as the stepmother is terrific in the scene.) Two cops frequent their house to check on Maggie; and though one of them acts like an a-hole for pushing for quarantine, he seems to be the most sensible character. A film has major problems if the hot-headed arse makes more sense than the upstanding father.
In Manila, Maggie is sold as an action-packed Schwarzenneger-headlined, full-scale zombiepocalypse — a most dishonest promotion. Beforehand, I knew this is far from truth; but it still did not prepare me for such a lifeless and asinine film. Zombienator sounds a ridiculous idea; but I’d rather see Schwarzenneger machine gun the hell out of the infected for three hours than sit one more minute for this celluloid disaster.