posted 21 May 2018, 11:32 by Paul Woodward

Genre: Horror / Thriller

Stars: Martin Freeman / Simone Landers / Susie Porter / Anthony Hayes / Caren Pistorious

Director: Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 1hr 45min

Year: 2017

Cargo is sort of a Zombie movie, set in Australia which follows a couple and their baby as they travel towards a believed safe haven to escape a Zombie outbreak.

There are certain unanswered questions regarding the Zombie outbreak and some of the ‘lore’ is very different here – but essentially the established ‘lore’ is there, the Zombie ‘virus’ although it’s never referred to as one is transferred by been bitten and kills you turning you into a mindless ‘Zombie’ who hungers for anything meatalicious. The writers have taken a different slant with their version though, the origin of the outbreak is kept very mysterious – never revealed to be a virus or of supernatural origin which really does add to the mystery and creepiness of the film. These Zombie’s also develop a yellow goo around the eyes, effectively blinding them and mouth – the purpose or reason for this is never touched upon. They also hibernate, burying their heads in the ground or seeking out darkness – again the reasons is never elaborated on.

This isn’t your stereotypical Zombie film; the horrific element comes more from the sense of hopelessness and inevitable doom the film pushes at every available moment. It creates a real atmosphere of despair which creates more horror and unsettling moments than the actual ‘Zombie’ threat. If anything, they are more of a background thing, it’s totally about the characters journey and if anything, the main threat seems to come from a human making the most of the apocalypse.

It’s a good film, not perfect, but a unique spin on the ‘Zombie’ genre – this is added to by the films setting and the heavy use of Aboriginal actors and culture in the storyline. It has a very distinct and obvious Australian feel to it, so no pandering to the international audiences by making the film blander or less Aussie.

Once the main character Andy is bitten the film becomes a race for him to find someone to look after his baby daughter before he fully turns in 48 hours. This intensifies the films sense of dread and despair – along this journey he meets aboriginal girl Thoomi whom he becomes a surrogate father figure to and whom he seeks help from in his desperate bid to save his daughter. We discover that the Aboriginal people saw the end coming and returned to the ‘old ways’ before the start of the film claiming humanity had poisoned the earth – furthermore adding to the mystery of the outbreak - man made? Mother nature fighting back? Only the writers know!

It’s not a feel-good film in the slightest, you know things aren’t going to end well for Andy but I really liked how the film ends – it was really emotive and finishes as positively as a film like this can.

I’m not a fan of Martin Freeman at all – and there are a few moments where he annoys me but overall, he comes across well. He manages to display the utter hopelessness of his situation, how the world around him is breaking him but also shows a dogged determination to save his daughter. The acting is quite good overall – not something that is needed as a prerequisite in your average horror film. Young actress Simone Landers does a great job with very heavy subject matter and adds a really human element to the film’s drama. I also really liked Caren Pistorious’s in her small role, her acting was stupendous and helped make the film feel as though it could be ‘real’ – which is another reason this film is so upsetting, its firmly based in reality.

No jump scares or excessive gore – The horror comes from the futility of the main protagonist’s journey, the impending doom and the situations he finds himself in. If anything, I found that even more distressing and horrific.

The film makers make big use of the beautiful Australian country scenery – with the film been set in rural Australia, there is plenty of awe inspiring cinematography. This is essentially a small film but given a grander look through its cinematography and storytelling.


Review By Woody