Thursday, May 24, 2018

Movie Review: Cargo (2018)

Cargo (2018) written by Yolanda Ramke and co-directed by Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling

A zombie-apocalyptic plague hits Australia, leaving people in small family groups. One family (dad (Martin Freeman), mom (Susie Porter), and daughter) rides a houseboat down river, hoping to make it to a military base which is presumably safe. An incident while scavenging a wrecked boat leaves the mom infected. She has about 48 hours until she turns into a mindless, ravenous beast. The dad tries to save her and winds up trying to find someone to take care of their daughter. He meets a few people along the way who have very different opinions about how to survive the zombie apocalypse and treat him and his daughter very differently.

The movie was inspired by the short film Cargo from 2013. This expanded version builds on the great premise and has the spirit of the short film. The story adds some aborigine mysticism (but not magic) as a foil to the ineffective scientific treatments. The historic treatment of the Australian natives comes up several times as a parallel to the classic zombie theme of treating other people as less than human. The movie has a good blend of original elements and standard zombie movie tropes.

Freeman gives a good but subdued performance as the dad. The rest of the cast is good, even those in the rather thankless evil roles. The tone vacillates between bleakness and hopefulness with a sad but hopeful ending.

Recommended, though currently (May 2018) it is only available through Netflix streaming.

Parental warning: the movie is a bit sweary and a bit gory (though mild by zombie movie standards, just slightly more gruesome than Shaun of the Dead). Thematically it is very heavy and not a lot of fun. It is thought provoking.

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