CARGO is a Refreshing New Direction in a Saturated Zombie Genre

Zombies are a dime a dozen, the market is so saturated with them you would nearly think actual zombies were non-fiction. I stopped watching THE WALKING DEAD after they caved Glen’s head in and if they ever make another RESIDENT EVIL movie I will hurt someone. So it is nice to see the genre is not yet dead. CARGO is a groundbreaking, art-house zombie film that is so far removed from the stereo-typical genre that it is impressive and needs to be embraced for more than the fact it is a zombie flick.

CARGO is not only the first zombie flick filmed in the Australian outback, it is also the first Australian theatrical feature film to be released globally as a Netflix Original. This is big news for the movie as it now has a release so much larger than it would ever obtain through cinema. For Australians, you do have a limited time where it can be seen in cinemas, and the cinematography does suit the big screen. To see a list of cinemas screening it head HERE for the full list. For the rest of the world – turn on Netflix!! CARGO released this past Thursday May 17th, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 105mins.




CARGO SYNOPSIS: (Contains Spoilers that are also in the Trailer)

In a desperate bid to outrun a violent zombie pandemic, Andy and Kay have holed up on a houseboat with their 1yr old daughter, Rosie. Their protected river existence is shattered by an attack, which sees Kay tragically die and Andy infected. Left with only 48hrs before he transforms into one of the creatures they have fought so long to evade, Andy sets out on a precarious journey to find a new guardian for his child.

A flourishing Aboriginal tribe are Rosie’s best chance of survival – but with their merciless attitude toward the afflicted, they also pose a grave threat. A young Indigenous girl becomes Andy’s only chance of safe passage into this sacred community. But unfortunately the girl has no desire to return to her people – she is on a quest to cure her own infected father by returning his stolen soul. Each in their own way is seeking salvation… but they will need to work together if they hope to achieve it.


Cargo Martin Freeman and Simone Landers image
Cargo Martin Freeman and Simone Landers



CARGO takes a new direction in zombies by making the universe completely shrunken into (mostly) one man’s struggle. The zombies play second fiddle in the greater story of family, survival and de-evolution of the planet. It sets the story in the oldest country and directs the desperation of survival towards the oldest race of humanity, the aboriginals. Humanity has ruined itself and created the zombies but one race of humans, the aboriginals, embrace their ancestry to survive. In his time of need Andy (Freeman) and his baby daughter, Rosie, have one option – to seek help.


“Cargo’ isn’t really a zombie film. ‘The Virals’ are symbolic of the Western pollution…the film promotes the Indigenous respect for the land.”


There are hints at the destruction of the environment but the movie is more about family and returning to simple life with respect to the planet. What would you do if you had 48hrs to live before you ate your child? Would you shoot your daughter and then take your own life? Trust your daughter to strangers? Would you kidnap someone to make them a wife (or mother) to your child when you go? How do you react to zombies themselves? Is it a fight for survival through avoiding them at all costs? Do you cull them? Torture them? What happens to your humanity in this situation when you are trying to maintain humanity and do all that is right for your daughter? CARGO proves you can delve into a saturated genre and still make something fresh.




CARGO is based on a short film from 2013 by the same name. Yolanda Ramke (also CARGO writer) and Ben Yowling directed the Tropfest Finalist short that now has close to fifteen million views on Youtube (that is the full short above). The iconic imagery of a baby in a carrier on the back of a zombie garnered international interest and would account for assisting this feature get made. For their first feature film this movie is superb and I see a very promising career ahead of the both of them. Both were trainee directors on JUNGLE – a great film to learn how to direct the kind of film that CARGO became i.e. remote survival film against all odds.

Another refreshing element of CARGO is the setting and cinematography from lensing legend Geoffrey Simpson (SHINE, CENTRE STAGE, GREEN CARD). Simpson captures the centre of Australia with stunning clarity, it truly is set in the outback and while the zombies won’t entice foreigners to visit the landscape and beauty of this country will. South Australian locations featuring in the film include the northern Flinders Ranges where the filmmakers found a landscape that evoked a remote world which supported the film’s post-outbreak context. This is definitely the place I would be running to in a zombie outbreak – as far away from people as possible!


Cargo movie image
Cargo Movie image



While there is a good supporting cast this movie is mostly Martin Freeman playing Martin Freeman. I could watch Freeman all day long however so this is not a bad thing. From his Dr Watson in SHERLOCK to FARGO to THE HOBBIT and everything in between – if he’s in a movie I am buying a ticket. His worry at what to do in this impossible situation is enough to break your heart and the final scene is harrowing. Freeman has such an emotive face, he was perfect casting for a limited dialogue movie.

Anthony Hayes was a standout – his performance of Vic was insanely terrifying. Post Zombie Insanity maybe? He did light up the screen for his scenes and added the post-apocalyptic vibe with a (close to) Mick from Wolf Creek performance. Susie Porter was a wonderful but brief performance as was Caren Pistorius as Vic’s unwilling partner-in-Zombieland. David Gulpilil gave his standard Aboriginal elder performance that no one will ever complain about. Another standout was newcomer Simone Landers as Thoomi. No acting background and a natural onscreen – she handled emotional scenes and with Freeman with ease, and from what I have read they have become quite close with her charging him $1- for every time he swore. 

“She was charging me a dollar every time I swore so I ended up giving her a lot of money.” Haha – love it.


Cargo Martin Freeman image
Cargo Martin Freeman image



This isn’t WORLD WAR Z or THE WALKING DEAD – it is a much slower, yet desperate and heartfelt, foray into the zombie genre. It is beautiful to see such a film set in Australia and the ties to the environment and family give this film a lot of heart. It will be marked in history as the first Australian feature film released globally as a Netflix original and if you can’t get to an Aussie cinema now it’s released just turn on the television and head to Netflix.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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