16th Jul2018

‘Cargo’ Review (Netflix Original)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, Caren Pistorius, Kris McQuade, Natasha Wanganeen, Bruce R. Carter, Simone Landers, David Gulpilil | Written by Yolanda Ramke | Directed by Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke


In a desperate bid to outrun a violent pandemic, Andy and Kay have holed up on a houseboat with their one-year-old daughter, Rosie. Their protected river existence is shattered by a violent attack, which sees Kay tragically die and Andy infected. Left with only 48 hours before he transforms into one of the creatures they have fought so long to evade, Andy sets out on a precarious journey to find a new guardian for his child. A flourishing Aboriginal tribe are Rosie’s best chance of survival – but with their merciless attitude toward the afflicted, they also pose a grave threat. A young Indigenous girl becomes Andy’s only chance of safe passage into this sacred community. But unfortunately the girl has no desire to return to her people – she is on a quest to cure her own infected father by returning his stolen soul. Each in their own way is seeking salvation, but they will need to work together if they hope to achieve it.

Cargo excels in a multitude of organically structured layers that explore race, segregation and oppression (to name a few) a subtextual codex that powers a thrilling and emotionally engaging horror, which at times showcases true terror thanks to screenwriter Yolanda Ramke.

Simone Landers is clearly one to watch and a brilliant find, holding her own with a challenging and captivating role, of emotional torture and a vast amount of depth to provoke such a sense of rich character. Freeman, while undoubtedly engaging in heartfelt moments, is often left clueless when having to promote genuine emotional depth, or intensity in sequences that demand such a state of awe and tension. Presumably due to his comedic background, and one cant knock an actor who clearly wants to evolve, and while perhaps he isn’t there just yet, it is undoubtedly a stepping stone to a richer and wider reaching filmography.

Although Cargo doesn’t necessarily break new ground regarding plot or set piece beats, it has conviction in its own merit about what it wants to say, and how it wants to say it, a certain characteristic lost in recent times, although incredibly prevalent in the genre of horror. Parallels of racial oppression, white privilege are clear and effective, thankfully not on the nose but a clear source of emotional instigation. Credit also is deserved with a spectacular soundtrack evoking Romero’s Dead Trilogy, wonderfully moody and stoic, with a stunning end composition.

Cargo is available on Netflix now.


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