Cargo (2017 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Ben Howling
  • Yolanda Ramke
Produced by
  • Russell Ackerman
  • Kristina Ceyton
  • Samantha Jennings
  • Mark Patterson
Screenplay byYolanda Ramke
Based on
  • Ben Howling
  • Yolanda Ramke
CinematographyGeoffrey Simpson
Edited by
  • Umbrella Entertainment
  • Addictive Pictures
  • Causeway Films
  • Head Gear Films
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • October 6, 2017 (2017-10-06) (Adelaide Film Festival)
  • May 18, 2018 (2018-05-18) (Worldwide)
Running time
105 minutes

Cargo is a 2017 Australian post-apocalyptic drama thriller film directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke with a screenplay by Ramke based on their 2013 short film of the same name. [1][2] The film stars Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, and Caren Pistorius.[3]. It premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival on 6 October 2017 and was released worldwide on 18 May 2018 by Netflix.


In a world overtaken by a virus that turns people into zombies within 48 hours, husband and wife, Andy and Kay, and their one-year-old daughter, Rosie, are living safely on a houseboat in rural Australia. They discuss when they should go to shore to collect food rations when they spot another family. Andy attempts to make contact, but the adult male flashes his gun at them. Andy spots an abandoned sailboat and proceeds to investigate it. He retrieves food, and, on his return, reassures Kay the sailboat he ransacked was safe; Kay decides to return by herself to try and collect more supplies, but is attacked by a zombie emerging from a cupboard.

Meanwhile, an Aboriginal girl, Thoomi, attempts to protect her infected father, Willie, by feeding him wildlife and keeping him locked up while her tribe eliminates the undead. In doing so, she distances herself from her mother, who is searching frantically for her.

Andy discovers Kay in the bathroom of the houseboat, trying to restrain the bloodflow from a bite on her knee. They attempt to find a hospital, but are distracted by Willie, who is in the middle of the road, and they crash their car into a tree, impaling Kay. Andy faints from shock, leaving Rosie strapped in her seat. He comes to hours later and tries to wake Kay, but realizes she has already converted, as evidenced by pus around her eyes and mouth. He takes Rosie out of the car, but is bitten by his wife during the process. He spots the man that had caused their crash, but realizing he is a zombie, prepares to defend himself. Thoomi dissuades Andy from hurting her father and leads him away.

Andy arrives at the town he intended to reach, entering a school and meeting Etta, a retired teacher, who helps him clean his wounds. He speculates on handing her Rosie, but realising she has cancer, abandons the notion. Continuing his journey Andy is followed by a zombie. He finds a truck and attempts to hijack it, but is stopped by a man named Vic, who saves Andy from the zombie that had been after him. Vic is trapped under a tank and gives Andy the keys, making him promise to rescue him first, and then they can escape approaching zombies together. Vic takes Andy to his shelter, an outpost formerly part of a gas plant. He meets Lorraine, who he assumes is Vic's wife. Andy hides his infection from the couple. Vic encourages Andy to leave Rosie with Lorraine so the two men can go to work, where they shoot groups of zombies and collect their valuables, as Vic believes when the country returns to normal people will want riches again. Vic attracts the zombies by imprisoning live, healthy humans inside cages as bait. Andy is perturbed to see Thoomi trapped, along with an old man in a cage. At the shelter, Lorraine attempts to cheer Rosie up when the power goes out, but discovers slime left by Andy on her stomach.

The men return to the shelter, where Lorraine briefly mentions to Andy that she cleaned up Rosie. Lorraine later confesses to Andy in private that she is not Vic's wife, and that Vic let her husband die along with other gas plant workers to save himself. Vic approaches them and knocks Andy out with the butt of his rifle out of suspicion, the latter awakening chained in the same cage as Thoomi. They agree to help each other escape by using the combined force of many zombies to open their cage; they return successfully to the shelter, rescuing Lorraine, Rosie, and the keys to both cages and chains. They don't get very far before Vic emerges from the shelter and shoots at them. Lorraine uses herself as a shield and is killed.

Thoomi leads Andy to the cage he visited earlier, but the man inside (who she tells him is her tribe’s “Clever Man” or shaman) is gone. They evade Vic tracking them down, and spend the night in a small gulch. After releasing each other of their chain, they are presumed to fall asleep, until later in the night Thoomi wakes up to heavy breathing and hides with Rosie while Andy rubs his face against blood on the wall. The following morning Andy and Thoomi have a conversation about her father's health, which results in Thoomi running off after Andy asserts her father will not get better. The same woman who has been seen calling for Thoomi (later revealed by Thoomi to Andy to be her mother and Willie’s wife) leaves Willie's jacket on a tree limb. Thoomi arrives to see her father has been straddled atop the tree, dead (as part of Aboriginal burial traditions). Andy arrives to comfort her, but leaves promptly when he cannot console Thoomi, as she irrationally blames him for delaying her (she believed the Clever Man could restore her father’s soul to his body, as she is unaware that the zombie phenomenon is biological rather than supernatural). He has another breakdown and begins to try and burrow his head into the ground. Thoomi remains at the tree grieving, but is able to hear Rosie's cry and goes to retrieve her. Andy is confronted by Thoomi after he rouses, who has decided to help him reach the river.

They travel by motorboat to the campsite where Andy last saw the family, inspecting the RV in which the family was staying. Andy leaves with Rosie to go find the family, while Thoomi stays in the RV. He meets the father, who has been bitten, and once again shows him his revolver. The father says it contains six bullets, and that Andy can have the remaining two once he uses them on himself and his family. Andy retreats as three gunshots are heard in the distance. The fourth is delayed while the father follows Andy, using it on himself and collapsing behind him. Andy collects the gun as intended and debates whether to shoot himself as well. Thoomi rushes to them, having removed her leaves and claiming she is ready to go home. They set off together towards the sight of smoke on a nearby hill.

As they pass through a train tunnel, they encounter Vic. Thoomi hides with Rosie inside a parked vehicle on the tracks, while Andy tries to distract Vic. The two men fight, and Andy shoots once, hitting Vic in the abdomen. During the struggle, Vic manages to obtain the revolver and also shoot Andy. Andy, briefly defeated, is unable to help Thoomi, who Vic pulls from the car, in the process hitting her head on the rails. She lies in pain, Vic grabbing hold of Rosie. Andy rises to check on Thoomi, who is still alive, and then Rosie, who Vic is cradling, lamenting the incidental death of Lorraine. He tearfully hands over Rosie so that Andy can renew his walk with a hurt Thoomi.

On the way Andy has another lapse, almost indulging in decayed meat. With little time left, Andy asks of Thoomi to promise to look after Rosie, with whom Andy shares a farewell before preparing himself for the finalization by placing a guard in his mouth, binding his wrists, and wrapping the meat from earlier on a stick. He then succumbs, his eyes crusted over.

The Aboriginal warriors have finished their raid, but Thoomi calls out to them with a whistle, drawing attention of the woman, her mother. Thoomi and Rosie are riding Andy, who is guided by the meat on the stick, and being perfectly harmless is detained by the warriors while Thoomi and Rosie are welcomed back by her mother. One of the warriors, the Clever Man who managed to escape his cage on his own, attempts to strike Andy with his spear, but Thoomi stops him. She takes out Kay's perfume bottle, and sprays it one last time, the smell pacifying Andy, for a moment returning his consciousness as he realizes Rosie is finally safe. Thoomi then allows the Clever Man to put Andy out of his misery.

The Aboriginal people are seen traveling to a refuge of many of their people where they are welcomed heartily. As Thoomi and her mother inspect Rosie, the words Thank You are read on her stomach, written in white paint which Thoomi and the warriors have used to disguise their scent from the zombies. The final shots of the movie are of Andy's plaid shirt and Rosie's fishing bait mobile hung on a tree.



The film was originally scheduled to be released on 8 June 2018.[4] However, it was later brought forward to 18 May 2018.[5][6][7][8] The film is dedicated in memory of Dr. G. Yunupingu, an Aboriginal Australian singer who died aged 46 on 26 July 2017.[9]


Cargo received positive reviews from critics, praising its emotional depth and Freeman's performance. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 86%, based on 64 reviews, and an average rating of 7.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Cargo takes a refreshingly character-driven approach to the zombie genre that's further distinguished by its Australian setting and Martin Freeman's terrific lead performance."[10] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

The film has been described as a tribute to the 2009 film The Road. [6][7] In a positive review, Brian Tallerico of stated he believed George A. Romero would have enjoyed the film.[12] Clark Collins of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a 'B', saying: "The Australian setting brings a fresh, and epic, quality to this now done-to-death genre".[13] However, Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter criticized the film for being "unlikely to satisfy either viewers looking for serious-minded fare or horror fans looking for genuine frights", but praised Freeman's "quietly intense" performance.[14]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
Best Film Russell Ackerman Pending
Kristina Ceyton Pending
Samantha Jennings Pending
Mark Patterson Pending
Best Adapted Screenplay Yolanda Ramke Pending
Best Sound Liam Egan Nominated
Leah Katz Nominated
Des Kenneally Nominated
Robert Sullivan Nominated
Best Production Design Jo Ford Nominated


  1. ^ Giroux, Jack (24 September 2016). "'Cargo' First Look: Martin Freeman Stars in the Zombie-Infested Drama". /Film. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  2. ^ Wiseman, Andrea (9 February 2017). "Netflix swoops on world rights to Martin Freeman zombie movie". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  3. ^ Barkan, Johnathon (12 May 2016). "Martin Freeman Joins Zombie Thriller 'Cargo'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  4. ^ Parfitt, Orlando (24 January 2018). "15 Netflix Original movies to look out for in 2018". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  5. ^ Quinn, Karl (3 May 2018). "When is a zombie film not a zombie film? When it's Martin Freeman's Cargo". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 16 May 2018. Cargo was written by Yolanda Ramke and co-directed by her and Ben Howling (they're mates, but not a couple). It's their first feature, an extended reworking of the seven-minute film they made for Tropfest in 2013, which became a YouTube sensation (it's been watched more than 14 million times).
  6. ^ a b Wise, Josh (23 April 2018). "Cargo". Slant. Retrieved 16 May 2018. In the post-apocalyptic world of Cargo, the undead shuffle about with eyes that seem to weep marmalade, a symptom of a mysterious disease that's swept across Australia.
  7. ^ a b Robinson, Raz (22 April 2018). "The NetFlix film about a baby-toting dad Fighting Zombies is Apparently Good". Fatherly. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  8. ^ Flook, Ray (7 March 2018). "Netflix Announces 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Films and Documentaries". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  9. ^ Goldman, Russell (26 July 2017). "Dr. G. Yunupingu, Australian Aboriginal Singer, Dies at 46". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Cargo (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Cargo Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  12. ^ Tallerico, Brian (18 May 2018). "Cargo". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  13. ^ Collins, Clark (10 May 2018). "Martin Freeman must protect his baby from zombies in horror movie 'Cargo': EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  14. ^ Scheck, Frank (16 May 2018). "'Cargo': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 18 May 2018.

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