Not sure why I was so surprised to hear that Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be in a zombie film, since he’s already fought robots, aliens, nameless terrorists, and even Satan himself. Why not zombies?
I have heard many people compare this film to The Road, and while that is an apt comparison, I would compare it with the Tom Hanks film Philadelphia more so. This is about a person infected with a life-threatening virus and what they do in their day-to-day life while dealing with an impending death.
Warning: this is about as “indie” as a zombie film can get, so don’t expect any Walking Dead-style set pieces. Yes, I know Arnie is in it, but he gets to flex his acting chops — not his 24-inch biceps. And yes, he can act: it’s all in the eyes. I believe he loves his daughter and is not ready to say goodbye to her.
But enough praising Arnold. I have been spending most of my existence trying to convince people he is a great actor, and finally I have a film to point to. Then people bring up Junior, and my argument is all but lost. Anyway, back to Maggie.
The film opens up with Arnold driving while listening to the radio, which states that a virus is going around, and the CDC is not sure how to stop it. The film never calls the people infected “zombies.” They only refer to it as “the turn,” further selling this film’s reality roots. Arnold arrives at a local hospital to pick up his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin), who was recently bitten. He’s informed that there is no cure at this time. Maggie is allowed to return home, but has to be taken to a quarantine zone once she starts to turn.
The remainder of the film shows Maggie trying to be a regular teenager. Breslin radiates despite facing a near certain death sentence, while her father has to come to terms with soon losing his daughter. Even worse, he is dealing with the possibility that he may have to be the one to put her to rest. Arnold honestly deserves some kind of award/recognition, because his pain feels so real as he contemplates something no father should.
This film also has some of the best tension I’ve felt in years, since it wisely plays off of common zombie film knowledge, toying with the cardinal rule of “never get close to zombies.” When Arnold is interacting with Maggie towards the end of the film, I was on the edge of my seat every time he embraced her.
I can’t recommend this film to horror fans enough, especially for those looking for a Terrance Malick-like zombie film that, as far as I know, has yet to exist. First-time feature film director Henry Hobson deserves heavy credit, as does cinematographer Lukas Ettlin. My only gripe — and this goes for all of Arnold’s films where he has a family — is that none of his kids have an Austrian accent. I’m kidding, of course. Just wanted to get that off my chest and urge fans of Arnie and the zombie genre to give this release a chance. It’s currently streaming on iTunes and due for a DVD release in July.
Article by contributor Moan4Stallone.