Based on the Tropfest finalist from 2013, filmmakers Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke have adapted their appropriately viral short film Cargo to the big screen, which opened in select cinemas across Australia yesterday through Umbrella Films.
After a violent viral pandemic all but destroyed humanity, a desperate father journeys with his infant daughter across a hostile landscape in search of salvation. With time running short and danger forever present, an emotional story unfolds, clinging to hope despite dire circumstances.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of John Hillcoat’s very faithful screen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, regarding the film’s sense of mystery surrounding the cataclysmic event and the realistic nature of our limited cast of characters. English actor Martin Freeman is our hero, Andy, an everyman of sorts whose universal nature enables viewers to question what they would do if presented with such a terrifying reality. The people our protagonist meets represent the contrasting effects of a fractured civilisation; from the delusion of normality eventually returning, as seen through disturbed scavenger Vic, played effortlessly by Anthony Hayes, to the return of old ways by Indigenous people where their culture can once again flourish. Not only does the inclusion of Australia’s original inhabitants give Cargo and distinctive edge among post-apocalyptic movies, but subtly implies that over the coming years, the lush continent will eventually revert back to its pre-colonial existence, which is a concept I honestly haven’t pondered in the context of any Australian film before.
This virally infected movie may tick many of the same boxes that define a typical zombie feature, but Cargo amounts to much more than just B-movie fan-fare, demonstrated a tipping-point of humanity, while cradling the prospect for a bright future for those who are left.
(2018, dir: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke)