So I was a Walking Dead fan for awhile, until I couldn’t take its relentless death, hopelessness, and heartbreak; but any other kind of zombie vehicle didn’t really interest me that much.
Which is why I was pleasantly surprised by Netlfix’s Cargo (2017, directed by Yolanda Remke and Ben Howling), starring Martin Freeman. Freeman plays Andy, a man who has lost his wife Kay (Susie Porter) to a mysterious virus that turns its victims into zombie-like creatures. Before she dies, she manages to bite him; he knows he has about 48 hours until the same fate takes him. But the bigger problem is their baby daughter, Rosie.
The film takes place in the Outback of Australia, and Andy wanders its dry, sun-baked landscape, desperate to find someone to take care of Rosie before it’s too late. Along the way, he meets some good people, and some not-so-good people. He finds a companion in Thoomi (Simone Landers), an Aboriginal girl who protects her father, who has been infected and mindlessly wanders the landscape.
Not much information is given about the virus–all we know is that some survivors have kits with information about symptoms and time-tables, and a wicked-looking tool to use (a spike in the brain) when it becomes too late. The Outback, usually inhospitable to most people besides the Aboriginals, has become an escape route from the cities, where the virus has taken root and decimated the population.
Martin Freeman is a favorite of mine (The Hobbit, Sherlock), and he’s wonderful here, just your average guy going to incredible lengths to save his child. The heartbreak must be unimaginable, knowing your child will have lost both parents, not sure where she’ll end up, and that you might actually eat her if you fail. It’s this last thought that keeps him going, while the timer on his wrist keeps ticking down, and every now and then a slimy seizure takes hold.
Aboriginal culture strongly permeates the story; one has the feeling that these people, no matter what happens, are going to be all right. They might even be the safe harbor Andy is looking for, not only for his daughter, but for Thoomi as well.
For a zombie flick, this one is pretty darn good, entertaining as well as emotionally engaging.