Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cargo (2018) Tribeca 2018

What makes CARGO work is that while it is set during a “zombie” outbreak, it is not about the monsters but about the people. We care about everyone on screen and their plight. The “zombies” are secondary, and wonderfully distant. The result is one of the best films of 2018.

The plot of the film is simple. With some sort of contagion turning people into monsters a family, mom, dad and baby are trying to find a safe place down a river. However when the mother is infected after a bite, the dad, played by Martin Freeman, decides that the best thing to do is go across land to a hospital. Things go bad fast and soon mom is dead, Freeman is infected and he has at best 48 hours to get his baby to safety before he turns into monster.

Bringing new life to the zombie genre and to the action trope of needing to get to safety before something happens. CARGO just delights. While not really scary, the film is unbelievably tense. We have seen what is going to happen to Freeman and we feel for his plight. We are fully invested in his story from the get go. We know what is going to happen, and we genuinely don’t want it to happen.

Directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke have done something almost unheard of in a zombie film and that is to keep the beasties out of the action. Yes they are there but more often shambling in the distance. They are ghosts we don’t know. They are abstractions. What we fear is not the monsters but the disease they carry. It is the illness that chills us to the bone. When we see the illness up close it frightens us.

I should say that while we don’t really get to know the zombies, the film does pose some intriguing twists to what we think of them, with notions that they have to rest in the dark so bury their heads or bang into walls. There is a great deal of thought here that makes the film all that more chilling since it’s not just the typical tropes. We don’t know the rules.

That the film works as well as it does it due the writing of the characters and the cast. While the plot can be slightly bumpy the characters lift the film up. We are willing to accept whatever is before us because we accept the characters as real. Everyone from Freeman on down is spot on perfect. This is one of those films that ensemble awards was made to recognize. We are watching people and characters and it pays off in a climactic moment that had the press corps sniffling and wiping away tears. It’s the moment where CARGO goes from very good to great and places it into the pantheon of truly special horror films. (It was the moment everyone couldn’t stop talking about- and I was getting texts and emails about for days after the screening)

I love this film and when it ended I literally grabbed the film’s publicist to insist she get me interviews with the directors and star.

An absolute must see- especially at Tribeca which will be one of your very few chances to see the film on a big screen before it disappears onto Netflix (May 18th). Trust me the images in the film MUST be seen on a big screen.

One of the best of Tribeca and the best of 2018.

For tickets and more information go here.

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