“The Turn” is an incurable infectious disease sweeping the nation (if not the world). In this quiet midwestern town (likely near Kansas City), crops are being burned in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease and infected citizens (which have been bitten by other “turned” cannibalistic zombies) are quarantined for the safety of the community.
When we meet Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), he is going to bring his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) home from the hospital after being infected with the “the turn.” Her injuries are minor, but everyone is fearful of what will happen to Maggie over time. Still, Wade is confident he can care for his daughter. While in the hospital, we are given glimpses of what the disease looks like and what it does to people in a controlled environment. Gruesome, deep wounds that look like a mix between burns and decay riddle their bodies. Some who are more advance seem lifeless and almost vegetative other than their ability to move. Hobson did a great job of giving quick, satisfying glimpses of what the disease can do to an infected person without throwing it in the viewer’s face.
When they return home to their quiet farmhouse, we meet Wade’s second wife Caroline (Joely Richardson) and their two young children, Molly (Carsen Fowers) and Bobby (Aiden Flowers). Surprisingly, there isn’t much fear around Maggie’s condition. The kids ask questions, but they mostly treat her as if she’s been sick with Mono. While Caroline tries to be supportive, she has a bit more reservation about having Maggie home. Bobby and Molly are sent away to prevent them from catching the disease as Maggie is treated at home.
As Maggie slowly progresses in her disease, we see the challenges of caring for an infected person taking it’s toll on Wade and Caroline. Wade’s unshakeable faith in his ability to figure out a way to help his daughter is both heartbreaking and frustrating. There are times when it seems the most compassionate thing to do would be to end his daughter’s life mercifully, which she even asks him to do. Still, they go on day by day trying to make it work.
While Maggie still has a fairly steady progression in her disease (which allows us to see her slowly coping with the transformation while still being able to function fairly normally,) Wade’s neighbor Bonnie’s own family experience with “the turn” shows how serious things can become when trying to deal with the disease on your own.
Bonnie’s infected husband and daughter escape from the house. Maggie finds them in the woods on the edge of Wade’s property. It’s a sunny, beautiful day, making the father and daughter’s presence all the more eerie. Unlike the typical aggressive, blood hungry zombies you’re used to seeing, these two are more passive. They are simply wandering aimlessly, though they become slightly more animated as they get closer to Maggie and Wade.
While it was interesting to see Schwarzenegger in a different role, I wasn’t completely impressed. He did a good job of playing the dutiful, well-to-do dad, but at times his character didn’t seem well rounded enough. He would become worried or fearful for his daughter, but he never gets angry, which seems odd considering the stressful and life altering circumstances they are in.
The directing in this film is wonderful when it comes to the film’s visual qualities. Director Henry Hobson’s (The Walking Dead, Snow White and the Huntsman) choice in mirroring scenes to show us what Wade and Maggie could experience is helpful, while the late night, moonlight drunken scenes are absolutely beautiful. There is no denying that Hobson is an artistic and thoughtful director. The film’s score is also wonderful. It blends the right amount of soothing, dramatic tones while maintaining a nerve wracking edge to it.
While I think Maggie gives an interesting, more human look at a word filled with zombies, the film is just okay overall. I don’t regret watching it, and I appreciate the different approach this film has on zombies, but I wouldn’t say it’s a film I’d run out to buy. If you are into gory, shocking and action packed zombie movies, this isn’t the film for you.
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