Cargo (2018) – Review

Cargo is available to stream on Netflix beginning May 18th.

[This is review is from last month’s Tribeca Film Festival]

I know what you’re thinking. “A zombie movie at a film festival? That doesn’t seem quite right.” Films of that genre are certainly rare at a fest like Tribeca. After viewing the excellent Cargo, you will understand why it was selected for this year’s lineup. The drama is definitely a zombie flick at heart, but a couple of creative decisions elevate Cargo to highbrow entertainment.

Cargo begins in the aftermath of a global pandemic. Andy (Martin Freeman) is focused on keeping his wife and their infant daughter alive as they travel across the Australian Outback. A terrible accident, however, forces him to set off on foot: A zombie bite has given Andy a mere 48 hours before he, too, is “undead.” Andy struggles to both find a refuge for his child and stave off the disease as the clock runs out on his humanity. On his journey, Andy crosses paths with an indigenous youngster, Thoomi (Simone Landers), who brings him into her Aboriginal community and offers a much-needed bit of hope: Her people may have a cure for the sickness.

Filmmakers Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke defy genre fans’ zombie-based expectations with their co-directing debut. Cargo pulls no punches in its intensity, yet the duo’s thoughtful film offers a deep, emotional meditation on intimate issues, like a parent’s love, as well as larger themes, like environmental protection and cultural strife. Injecting fresh life into zombie cinema’s often cold bloodstream, Cargo is tailor-made for sophisticated horror fans.

Freeman is excellent here, giving a subdued performance with plenty of believe emotion. Looking at the apocalypse from the lens of parents allows the film to feel fresh even though we’ve seen similar stories before.

Cargo certainly lags in a few spots. I wanted more action in some scenes. Still, there are enough twists to ignore the weaker parts. There’s a fantastic ending as well.

Definitely check this one out when it releases on Netflix. I wish everyone could watch it on the big screen!

I give Cargo an A-.

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