CARGO (October 11th)


YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...

There are some actors that are universally likeable aren't there? Tom Hanks is one. That man is incapable of playing a 'baddie' as he's just so bloody lovely isn't he? Hugh Jackman and Will Smith are quite high up on my list too. You know who else is? Martin Freeman. I'm English so I will always associate him with his portrayal of Tim Canterbury, the everyman caught up in the chaos that was David Brent's Slough branch of Wernham Hogg in The Office. Freeman has since made that something of a speciality, playing the average bloke that everyone can relate to. There's an earnestness and humanity about him that has stood him in good stead for roles in a number of blockbuster films such as The Hobbit and Black Panther. He's not one to venture into horror normally but his appearance in 2017's Ghost Stories shows that he could handle the darker stuff. Which makes his lead role in Netlfix's 2018 zombie flick 'Cargo' all the more appealing.

Set in the aftermath of a worldwide infection, a middle aged couple (played by Freeman and Susie Porter) try to keep their baby daughter Rosie out of harms way by holing up in a houseboat and making their way down a sleepy river. However although they are out of the city and away from immediate danger, their food supplies are running out. Their luck turns however when they discover an abandoned boat that's stocked with some handy supplies. Although as it turns out, it's not the only thing that's still on there...

Cargo feels like an Australian take on The Walking Dead – and that's meant as a compliment before you say anything. Like the smash hit American series, Cargo doesn't bother providing any explanation as to why the zombie apocalypse began either. Zombies are merely called 'the infected' and although they pose a very real threat, there are long stretches of the film where we don't even see any at all. Cargo is about the characters rather than the apocalypse itself, which tends to be the way with zombie flicks nowadays but to it's credit it does this really very well. The aboriginal element to the film does introduce some bigger concepts and some sense of social commentary but for the most part these are kept simmering away in the background whilst the survivors traipse their way across the wilderness trying to avoid being eaten.

The 'infected' themselves are fairly standard fare but there are some nice extra touches which make them feel a little different. Those who have been bitten can slap a watch on their wrist that will effectively tell them how long they've got until they turn (isn't technology amazing?!). The 'infected' also 'hibernate' and also seem to rest up by burying their head in the earth. The film also seems to treat them with a certain sense of 'respect'. These aren't purely cannon fodder. They were people once and their deaths are not something to be celebrated. Their just an inescapable necessity.

But it's Freeman's performance that really stands out. Everyone is good in Cargo (special shout out to Simone Landers who plays native girl Thoomi) but he is the heartbeat of the film. Again it's his normality that really resonates and here he gets to demonstrate an emotional range too, something which he isn't always given the chance to do. He's able to communicate an awful lot through a look or a moment of silence and that's always a sign of a decent actor. Cargo is tragic in places and not an easy watch at times but Freeman drags you through the chaos.

And to think that the film is writer/director Yolanda Ramke's first feature is quite incredible. She's made a well-crafted and heartfelt zombie flick which stands out from the crowd because of it's poignancy and careful screenplay. I can't wait to see what she does next.

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