Review: Cargo

7 10

PLOT: In the midst of a zombie pandemic, an infected father (Martin Freeman) has forty-eight hours to find a new home for his infant daughter.

REVIEW: CARGO is another one of those zombie films, like 28 DAYS LATER, where the “Z-word” is never mentioned. Heck, even “The Walking Dead” calls them “walkers”. I dunno about you readers, but if I was ever unfortunate enough to have a run-in with the undead (unlikely – I’ll admit), I’d sure as heck call them zombies. Nevertheless, one has to give co-directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke (who also wrote the script) credit for what’s one of the better zombie movie hooks in recent years.

Basically, in the situation depicted by CARGO, infected persons get forty-eight hours before turning. Thus, when a nice Australian couple (Martin Freeman and Susie Porter) are infected, they have handy bracelets that countdown the moments they have left. While Porter’s Kay is a goner right away, Freeman’s Andy manages to get by on his wits, but he knows he only has hours to find his infant daughter a new home. Like on “The Walking Dead” and in the recent A QUIET PLACE, having a baby in-tow is perhaps the worst liability you can have in such a situation.

Howling and Ross have indeed made a striking debut with this better-than-average horror thriller, which should play well on Netflix. The ideal Australian outback setting helps tremendously, making this a kind of follow-up to the great Aussie new wave horror flicks of the late seventies, such as Peter Weir’s THE LAST WAVE. Like in that film, salvation lies in the hands of the nation’s Aboriginal community, through a young girl, Thoomi (Simone Landers) who leads around her zombified father, hoping to get him his ancestral last rights.

In an odd twist, it takes a long time for Freeman and Landers to eventually team up, going through a somewhat episodic structure where Andy tries to get strangers to take in his daughter. A middle-aged school teacher seems like a good prospect, but she’s terminally ill. A survivalist (Anthony Hayes) and his wife also seem like a good bet, but he’s a psycho racist who uses aboriginals as live bait. Eventually, Andy’s odyssey into the outback leads him to Toomi, but not until over an hour has passed, which is maybe a slight misstep, as their relationship could have used more screen time.

CARGO has a few other problems too, such as the fact that Andy seems way too relaxed for a guy who’s going to be (un)dead in a matter of hours. If you had forty-eight hours left, would you stop to sleep? Some sense of desperation would have made his situation more relatable, but he seems oddly ok with his plight until pretty late in the film. Still, Freeman’s performance is excellent, and he makes for an appealing everyman. Landers is similarly good, and I like the way Howling and Ross acknowledge the territory’s history of racism against the Aboriginals (which, to be fair, Australian genre cinema has long acknowledged – even in throwaway bits in movies like ROAD GAMES).

While not a perfect horror/thriller, CARGO is a solid genre entry for Netflix and one which will no doubt surprise a lot of genre fans. It may look indistinguishable for other movies in your queue, but it’s worth giving a shot (although you might have to search for it – Netflix’s algorithm has always confused me).

Source: JoBlo.com



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