Zombie films are generally just an entry point for deeper themes. A zombie film can be as deep or as mindless as the viewer wishes. The deeper themes in Cargo is that we should never give up hope for a better world for our children, even when it seems all hope is gone. Cargo is based on a viral seven minute horror short where a father wakes up in a car with his wife who has 'turned' next to him. He rushes to get his child out of the car and realizes he has been bit. At that point he is in a race against time to save his child's life before he turns too. The film "Cargo" expands on this heartbreaking idea. If you have seen the original piece than you know exactly where the movie is going.
Fans of zombie horror films will feel the inconstancy in the film. At times it is one stupid mistake after the other, at other times its a well written though piece on sacrifice, love, and survival. Despite the fact I had decided I wasn't going to cry over a merely passable horror film, I must admit my chest hurt and eyes burned watching the end sequence. You would have to be made of stone to not feel anything watching this father try to get help for his daughter before it is to late. The film opens with no “virus” opening sequence, our characters have already lived past that obstacle. Instead we meet Andy (Martin Freeman) his wife Kay and their baby Rosie in the aftermath of a world decimated by disease. The family is living in relative safety on a houseboat, but they are running out of supplies and discussing what the best course of action is. A scenario similar to the original short ensues and Andy, now bitten, must find someone to care for his child.
The film is well shot and beautiful to watch but slow, which is interesting as the character is literally in a race against time. The writers could have and should have written more action into the film. At times the film bogs itself down with delivering the very obvious message its trying to send. Martin Freeman is excellent, even when the writing isn't. Damn it I didn't want to cry over someone who makes such poor choices at the beginning of the film, but I did it anyway. Martin rescues the film from its overly slow pace with his amazing portrayal of a father who is disparate.
Cargo is no Hollywood blockbuster. It lacks far to much to not have been lost at the theater among so many films currently in release. So, it's a good thing it wasn't released in theaters, but for home viewing I find it an interesting take on an old troupe. The film is a very powerful and emotional experience and can be compelling to even non horror or zombie fans. Cargo is less focused on the gore and jump scares and more about telling the story of a man who will do whatever he must to make sure his child is safe. Just be sure to have plenty of Kleenex near by while you watch the movie.