“Cargo,” dir. Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke
An infected father navigates a zombie-riddled Australian Outback with his infant daughter. Fortunately, he’s found an Aboriginal community that may hold the disease’s cure. Unfortunately, he has only 48 hours to live.
In recent years, zombie films haven’t been able to stand out. Most of them have similar plots revolving around a person or group of people attempting to survive among a swarm of the undead, relying on a creative style to make it feel fresh. With “Cargo,” directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke use the backdrop of the Australian Outback and a tone reminiscent to Taylor Sheridan films such as “Wind River” or “Hell or High Water” to tell a more intimate story of a man trying to bring his daughter to safety.
Martin Freeman is exceptional in the lead role, beautifully capturing the fear or being in such a terrifying situation. His fight to stay human for the protection of his daughter is a good source of drama and makes for some of the more intense scenes in the film. He also meets up with a child who’s taking care of his father who’s already turned into a zombie which is also compelling.
Unfortunately, the other characters and obstacles Freeman encounters on his journey are nowhere near as interesting or as well developed. There’s a typical villain character who drags the film considerably for some unnecessary conflict by the halfway point. The pace of the film is particularly sluggish which hurts some of the emotional attachment there could have been.
“Cargo” does a couple of interesting things with the zombie genre, but not enough to make it a particularly special entry. It’s disappointing that a couple of rich character arcs couldn’t have been more properly implemented into a more distinctive film. It hits Netflix next month, but will most likely be caught in the shuffle and unnoticed.
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