The original content catalogue on Netflix contains an interesting take on the zombie subgenre. ‘Cargo’ co-opts different stylings to freshen up the decaying, stagnating zombie genre.

Visually, it could be a western; a road movie, even a war film. In terms of special effects, it looks budgety at times but the cinematography is spralling. Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke use directing techniques to drag you into the experience.

The light of the family’s cabin looks warm and inviting when the sun goes down. This illustrates that the boat is a sanctuary in a dangerous environment.

In one instance, the boat drifts past a child’s birthday party. The brightly coloured balloons look out of place in contrast with the barren and unforgiving world. This creates a surreal effect. 
That is one thing most post-apocalyptic movies miss out these days, surrealism. Dystopia goes hand-in-hand with surrealism because it gives you the feeling that the world has gone mad.

I love the way tension is built through camera work. For example, the camera will look at a door that has been left ajar hinting that something may come through it. It sounds like an obvious horror technique. However, the lack of soundtrack in these moments makes them eerily quiet. It is very unsettling.

One thing that is present in every aspect of ‘Cargo’ is rhythm. The rhythm of the directing is evocative. The rhythm of the horror is relentless and the dialogue, realistic. These elements work in unison to create a visceral experience.

The dialogue contains lots of subtle details that aid the worldbuilding. For instance, it is hinted that there may be multiple kinds of creature that pose a risk.

The storytelling deftly avoids falling into the trap of being glum. The movie does not feel like tough going like ‘The Road’ did. 

Instead, it highlights the power of human nature in spite of a savage world. The writing draws out its characters fundamentally good nature in a world where humanity’s nature can change.

‘Cargo’ struggles to hold your attention in sections of the third act. With that said, it draws you back for the powerful finale. Andy delivers his daughter and the girl in his care, even in death.

This movie is a real journey and a unique take on the zombie movie. I urge any fan of the horror genre to check it out.

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