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
  • 6 October 2017 (2017-10-06) (ADLFF)
  • 18 May 2018 (2018-05-18) (Worldwide)
Running time
105 minutes

Cargo is a 2017 Australian post-apocalyptic horror drama 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, Simone Landers, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, and Caren Pistorius.[3] It premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival on 6 October 2017 and was released in cinemas in Australia on 17 May 2018, worldwide except for Australia on 18 May 2018 by Netflix and on Netflix in Australia on 16 November 2018.[4]


In a world overtaken by a virus that turns people rabid within 48 hours, the Rose family—Andy, Kay, and their baby Rosie— are living safely on a houseboat in rural Australia. Short on food, Andy investigates an abandoned sailboat and retrieves various supplies. Later, Kay goes to collect more but is attacked by a rabid human inside. Meanwhile, an Aboriginal girl, Thoomi, attempts to protect her infected father by feeding him wildlife and keeping him locked up while her mother frantically searches for her.

Andy discovers Kay in the houseboat, trying to stop the bleeding from a bite. They set out to find a hospital, but crash after avoiding a man in the middle of the road. Kay is impaled and Andy faints; he wakes later and is bitten by a turned Kay as he gets Rosie out of the car. Andy prepares to defend himself against the man, noticing he is infected. Thoomi appears and dissuades Andy from hurting her father.

Andy finds an empty village and meets Etta, a schoolteacher, who takes care of him and Rosie for the night. Etta explains that all of her students, most of them Aboriginals, have discarded modern trappings and gone back to the old ways. When Andy and Rosie leave the next morning, she shows them a picture of Thoomi and her parents and asks Andy to find them so that Rosie can have a second chance.

Andy finds a ute and attempts to hijack it, but is stopped by its trapped owner, Vic. Andy frees him and they escape to Vic's shelter where Andy meets Lorraine, whom he assumes is Vic's wife. He leaves Rosie with Lorraine and leaves with Vic. Vic attracts the infected by imprisoning healthy humans inside cages as bait; Andy is perturbed to see Thoomi trapped. That night, Andy attempts suicide, but Lorraine stops him, confessing that she knows he is infected, and revealing that she is not Vic’s wife; he has been holding her captive after he killed her husband. Vic knocks Andy out, and he awakens in the same cage as Thoomi. They agree to help each other escape by using the combined force of many infected to open their cage; they return to the shelter, rendezvousing with Lorraine and Rosie. Vic shoots at them as they escape, and Lorraine uses herself as a shield and is killed.

The following morning, Thoomi runs off after Andy says her father will not get better. Thoomi looks for her father, finding him straddled atop a tree, dead. Andy arrives to comfort her but leaves when he cannot console her, as she blames him for delaying her. Thoomi remains at the tree grieving, but is able to hear Rosie's cry and catches up with Andy. They travel by motorboat to the campsite where Andy previously saw a family, inspecting the caravan in which they were staying. Andy leaves with Rosie to go find the family, while Thoomi stays in the caravan. He meets the father, who has been bitten. The father offers Andy a revolver once he uses four of the bullets to kill himself and his family. The father executes his plan, and Andy collects the gun as intended and debates whether to shoot himself as well. Thoomi rushes to them, and they travel towards nearby smoke.

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. During the struggle, Vic manages to obtain the revolver and shoot Andy. He rises to check on Thoomi and Rosie, who Vic is cradling, lamenting the death of Lorraine. He tearfully hands over Rosie so that Andy can renew his walk. Andy has another lapse, almost indulging in decayed meat. With little time left, Andy asks Thoomi to promise to look after Rosie, and then prepares himself for the transformation by placing a guard in his mouth, binding his wrists, and wrapping meat on a stick.

They catch up to the Aboriginal warriors as they finish killing several infected, but Thoomi calls out to them with a whistle, drawing the attention of her mother. Thoomi and Rosie are riding Andy, who is detained by the warriors while Thoomi and Rosie are welcomed back. She takes out Kay's perfume bottle and sprays it, the smell pacifying Andy who seems to acknowledge Rosie is finally safe. Thoomi allows a warrior to put Andy out of his misery.

The Aboriginal people are seen traveling to a refuge of their people where they are welcomed heartily. As Thoomi and her mother inspect Rosie, the words "Thank You" are read on her stomach, apparently written by Andy in the white paint which Thoomi and the warriors have used to disguise their scent from the zombies.



The film was originally scheduled to be released on 8 June 2018.[5] However, it was later brought forward to 18 May 2018.[6][7][8][9] The film is dedicated in memory of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, an Aboriginal Australian singer who died aged 46 on 26 July 2017.[10]


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 88%, based on 74 reviews, and an average rating of 7.17/10. 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."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12]

The film has been described as a tribute to the 2009 film The Road.[7][8] In a positive review, Brian Tallerico of stated he believed George A. Romero would have enjoyed the film.[13] 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".[14] 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.[15]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
Best Film Russell Ackerman, Kristina Ceyton, Samantha Jennings, and Mark Patterson Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Yolanda Ramke Nominated
Best Sound Liam Egan, Leah Katz, Des Kenneally, and Robert Sullivan Nominated
Best Production Design Jo Ford Nominated
Best Hair and Makeup Larry Van Duynhoven, Beverley Freeman & Helen Magelaki Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best First Feature Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Simone Landers Nominated


  1. ^ Giroux, Jack (24 September 2016). "'Cargo' First Look: Martin Freeman Stars in the Zombie-Infested Drama". /Film. Retrieved 26 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Wiseman, Andrea (9 February 2017). "Netflix swoops on world rights to Martin Freeman zombie movie". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 26 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Barkan, Johnathon (12 May 2016). "Martin Freeman Joins Zombie Thriller 'Cargo'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 26 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "New on Netflix in November". Who. Retrieved 23 December 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Parfitt, Orlando (24 January 2018). "15 Netflix Original movies to look out for in 2018". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 24 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Quinn, Karl (3 May 2018). "When is a zombie film not a zombie film? When it's Martin Freeman's Cargo". The 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). CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Flook, Ray (7 March 2018). "Netflix Announces 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Films and Documentaries". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 7 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Goldman, Russell (26 July 2017). "Dr. G. Yunupingu, Australian Aboriginal Singer, Dies at 46". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Cargo (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 3 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Cargo Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 21 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Tallerico, Brian (18 May 2018). "Cargo movie review & film summary (2018)". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Scheck, Frank (16 May 2018). "'Cargo': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 18 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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