This will be one of several reviews from this year’s Tribeca film Festival. To follow our coverage, click here.
Synopsis: Stranded in rural Australia in the aftermath of a violent pandemic, an infected father desperately seeks a new home for his infant child, and a means to protect her from his own changing nature. (Netflix)
Starring: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, and Susie Porter
Writer: Yolanda Ramke
Directors: Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke
Running Time: 105mins
Zombie films have become a tired genre so it’s great to see new films breathe new life into the genre though before being a zombie film, Cargo is a film about family and the lengths parents are willing to go to protect their children. The story is a snapshot of a bigger pandemic taking place in Australia, focusing on the relationship between a man named Andy (Freeman) and his infant daughter Rosie. Not only must they navigate the treacherous countryside and all the infected (the film doesn’t refer to them as zombies) within it but they also had to contend with the fact that Andy was bitten and may turn at any moment.
Contending with zombies or infected can be scary, and this was still the case here, but the unpredictability of Andy’s status was the scarier aspect of the film. This, set against his sheer determination to protect Rosie was very compelling to watch while encountering several challenges along the way. Taking place in the Australian countryside, the cinematography took advantage of this, making it beautiful to look at and another character in the story.
The film would not have worked if not for Freeman’s performance but luckily, he delivers one of his best performances as Andy. In a departure from his usual roles, he proves that he can be a leading man by using his charm and likability in making a compelling lead and the emotional backbone of the film. Simone Landers was solid as an aboriginal girl named Thoomi, one of Andy’s companions.
Overall, this was a great zombie film that breathed some new life into the genre by grounding it with a compelling family story, elevated by the great lead performance by Martin Freeman.