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Review: Cargo (2018)


Title: Cargo (2018)

Genre: Horror

Director: Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke

Stars: David Gulpilil, Martin Freeman, Susie Porter

Grade: B-

In a Nutshell:

Long after a zombie outbreak, Andy (Martin Freeman), his wife Kay (Susie Porter), and baby daughter Rosie have taken refuge on a boat in the Australian Outback. Sailing along the river has kept the family safe, but they’re running out of food. When Kay tries searching an abandoned boat for supplies, she ends up getting bitten by a zombie in the water.

People who are “infected” have some 48 hours before they transform. Kay is pessimistic, but Andy insists on trying to take her to a hospital. Without giving away too much, Andy becomes infected as well. In a world where the few remaining people are hardly any kinder than the flesh-eating zombies themselves, Andy has just 48 hours to find somebody to take care of his daughter.

Along the way, Andy meets an Aboriginal girl named Thoomi (Simone Landers). Thoomi’s father is also infected, but she believes the real problem is that his soul is missing. She’s also estranged from her tribe, which is attempting to wipe the zombies out, yet her tribe might be the only ones who can protect Rosie.

The Critique:

Cargo was originally a short film with the exact same premise. The original short was great, and it’s been watched over 14 million times on YouTube. While I like this revamped version of Cargo, the core plot has suffered a bit in stretching the run-time from 7 to 105 minutes. It can get tedious watching Andy and Josie walk on and on, and the execution is lackluster at times, with some key scenes coming across as boring rather than disturbing or exciting.

Still, while it’s inconsistent, Cargo is definitely a breath of fresh air for the zombie genre. There’s not much blood or gore, and there’s maybe only a half-dozen scenes where we see the zombies at all. In fact, the tension of the movies comes not so much from the zombies, who are sparse and slow, but Andy’s 48 hour deadline to get Josie to safety.

As a kind of road movie, Andy also comes across a couple of different characters on his journey. These characters and their tiny subplots help keep the movie interesting, and the subplot involving Thoomi and her father make for a neat parallel to the main one. Overall, Cargo is a good, unique zombie movie, relying more on minimalism and subtlety than the extreme horror and violence we usually expect from the genre.

To Go, to Rent, or to Netflix:

Cargo, an original Netflix movie, just hit the streaming service on May 20, so it’s probably going to be the only option to see the film for a while.

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