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In Australia’s rustic backcountry lies the foundation of a zombie apocalypse that’s shrouded in a dismal atmosphere.  Netflix’s Cargo, just recently premiered Friday, May 18th 2018. Starring Martin Freeman, most notable for his role as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, Cargo exchanges the gore-filled zombie feature for a more structured character driven narrative that is both engaging and emotional. The film follows an infected father, Andy (played by Martin Freeman), who has 48 hours to get his infant child to safety before his transformation to undead takes full form. Cargo is a full-feature based on a seven minute short film (of the same name) written by Yolanda Ramke and directed by Ramke and Ben Howling; both inheriting the same roles for the Netflix film. 

Ramke’s attempt in presenting an expanded version of her short film is impressive, considering the limited amount of material in which she had to expand from the original short. The extent of a desperate father’s sole purpose in finding a safe home for his infant daughter is an emotional investment most of us are willing to make. Freeman’s character is relatable, likeable, and most importantly, reflects an idea of love and sacrifice we imagine we’d have in similar circumstances.  Set against the desolate wilderness of Australia’s countryside, Cargo is an immersive journey that lends itself to the uncertainty that the vast and open environment cannot guarantee safety; and most frightening, nowhere to hide.

As Andy ventures on foot in search of safety, he not only encounters the ghouls that plague the outback, but survivors whose sense of entitlement to a land that no longer bears legal tenure creates aggressive confrontations. This does not suggest that every encounter is met with violence, but only shows the threat stretches beyond the undead. As Andy comes across several individuals, we bear witness to the struggles people endure in this apocalyptic world. With a limited amount of time (48 hours from the initial zombie bite) that Andy has to find a new and safe home for his infant child (Rose), he learns of a man, an Australian aboriginal named Willie, who would be capable of taking in his daughter. Learning of the mysterious Willie through a young aboriginal girl named Thoomi (played by actress Simone Landers), the film finally brings the plot together in the midst of Andy’s wandering the outback. Thoomi bears her own burdens as tensions begin to rise in the Australian outback.

By the third act of the film, Andy’s remaining hours prior to abandoning his humanity are dwindling by the minute. Martin Freeman’s likeable character compliments the intensity of the story as it becomes more difficult to accept his fate. Cargo’s verdict stands–it’s a moving horror/thriller that doesn’t downplay on the horror elements. Yolanda Ramke’s apocalyptic vision is a fresh take on the genre as the film’s location plays an important factor in the storytelling; the Australian aboriginal peoples are perhaps the most interesting of the film. Cargo is available for streaming exclusively on Netflix. If you’re interesting in checking out the original short film, also by Yolanda Ramke, you can find the YouTube link below. Thanks for reading.


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