Directors: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke
Writer: Yolanda Ramke
Stars: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter
Why I Watched It: This is a Netflix original so of course I saw the trailer on Netflix and it’s genre so I gave it a go.
Random Thoughts: One thing you have to give film makers credit for they do know how to twist a genre, now you would think the zombie genre is pretty much done that there’s nothing new to say or do but you’d be wrong cause there’s always a new angle now whether or not this is done well is up to the audience but I will give the Cargo credit here they try, a different plot and setting, so they get points for trying at least.
What I like: Cargo takes the zombie movie and they had a ticking clock to it, it’s very clever making it not about you yourself surviving cause you won’t but making it about can I find someone that I can trust to raise my baby before I turn. That’s a hook and not only a horror hook but a human one and really as much as Cargo is about zombies it’s also about surviving and about being a parent and the first thing you learn when you become a parent is that you’re not the most important person in the world anymore. The instant you become a parent you sign on to look after and take care of that child even if that means you have to sacrifice yourself. Cargo is very effective at showing us that bond and really that responsibility. They also take a premise where the lead character is going to die in 48 hours and not make it sad or morbid but turn it into a race against time.
Martin Freeman carries the film, he’s pretty much in every scene and also a lot of the time it’shim carrying a baby, it really helps that Freeman is a likable actor and you follow and cheer for him and give him all the credit cause he makes us not feel sorry for him but fear for his baby, he’s very good in a quiet role.
The other thing Cargo does that’s a tad different is that this is filmed in Australia and it’s outback so the film looks amazing even though we have zombies running, or slowing walking, around. It’s not a crowded city it’s sparse and lovely to look at which of course makes it a bit scarier.
If you look at it another way this film is also a road trip movie, a sad horrific one but this man is on the road meets different people and the twist is he doesn’t have an end spot to reach but he’s looking for one of these people he meets on the way to trust with something more about than his own life.
What I Didn’t Like: This is a slow moving film, for a zombie movie it’s filmed like an art house movie, the pace is very slow at the beginning and I really do think it runs long and it does hurt the whole ticking clock plot the slow pace takes tension and energy away from the film and also at times it’s bit boring. If you cut 10-15 minutes I think you would have a better more effective film.
Cargo does something that I have to say I’m sick of it’s a cliche that way too many films use, the human villain in a story where you also have a supernatural or horror creature villain, in a film where you have zombies why do we have to have a “bad guy” who’s only purpose is to be evil and try to stop the hero, also my problem with this kind of character is that it’s almost never defined they’re not a person there a plot point and Cargo does this and it did bother me nothing against the Anthony Hayes who does his best but he’splaying a big ball of hate and really I didn’t need it and really take him out and the main plot still works very well.
Cargo also has the problem that we know going in this film is going to have a downbeat ending and yes it really does. I do find it hard watching a character and trying to invest in them knowing full well they won’t make it, it’s like playing a game you know before you start you won’t win, not that the film can’t be good but it does kind of eat at me while I’m watching.
Final Thoughts: It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it does try something different and even though it doesn’t completely work it’s a solid genre movie and it does have a good Martin Freeman performance.