Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson
Director: Henry Hobson
Highly underrated, this film has Schwarzenegger really outdoing himself as a father whose daughter has come home to spend her last days before she turns into a flesh eating zombie. I think perhaps the zombie element disappointed audiences, because this film is more about a dystopian small town America than it is about shooting things and cutting heads off. In fact, there’s very little gore at all. But it is a very eery film.
There is no cure for the disease that has swept the country, so when Wade brings home his infected daughter Maggie, he has to send away his younger children and his wife is decidedly nervous. Maggie is initially afraid to see her friends, scared of being judged, but she soon finds that she’s not the only one who is infected and awaiting the end.
And essentially, that’s what the film is about. Maggie’s bond with her father, and his bond with her. Watching her change. Witnessing her fear and suffering and being unable to help. Knowing that when the time comes, he will have to kill his own child before she can hurt anyone else. It’s an exploration of all these things, of loss and it’s inevitability, and coming to terms with it. It’s got horror elements, but in many ways, it’s quite a beautiful story.
And what really cements this film in the mind and the heart is Schwarzeneggers performance. Yes, he still has the accent, but I’ve never seen him quite like this. He’s warm, vulnerable, a farmer who lost his first wife, a husband, a good neighbour, a man coming to terms with an awful world, a man who loves his little girl. He personifies all these things so beautifully, I felt heart broken by what he was facing. He really is the emotional heart of this film, and he does an amazing job. I’d love to see him in more roles like this, who knew he had it in him?
See It If: You want to see a whole other side to Arnie, or you want a more contemplative zombie movie. This film is really something.