A Dude wakes after a car crash, reason for crash unknown and pretty much unimportant. On gaining some form of conscious the dude is under attack by his dead and re-animated wife, she's restrained by a seat belt else this could have been one hell of a quick movie. He escapes the car, but then needs to rescue his baby daughter before Mum can take a few bites.
We quickly learn Dad has been bitten, and thus is going to succumb to the zombie virus, did I mention we are in the middle of the Z apocalypse with very few safe places for Dad to take the baby before the inevitable. He hatches a pretty cool plan, that works even after he has joined the ranks of the shuffling dead, but can he get his daughter to the living before his new instincts have the unthinkable happen?
Hands up who doesn't bother with Tropfest anymore? For anyone outside of Australia Tropfest is probably the leading short movie competition in the Country, though its claim of being the biggest short movie festival in the World is definitely up for argument, with Auckland's own National festival having a lot more categories for film makers to compete in and a hell of a lot more movies each year. Anyways Tropfest has had a few bumpy years due to claims of nepotism, plagiarism, and with an air of smugness about it that doesn't work for this little black duck. Since the festival seems to have an aversion to horror, yeah it's that sort of self-important ego stroking, I had pretty much given up on it after being a regular follower for a number of years. Hence I missed the extremely strong zombie short Cargo, that made the finalist selection in 2013; more I would say because the movie forced itself into the final than the voting panel suddenly deciding there is more to movies than self-indulgent ego outings. So let's rock into this one, which I am already comparing very favourably to the Governator's very own Maggie.
Directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke are right across the requirement of a short movie, imply things rather than spending valuable screen time showing them. Thus we know the zombie apocalypse is upon us due to Mom going Walking Dead and also a map Dad has which details safe zones and those less safe due to the growing horde of undead. What I was impressed with was the directing duo's ability to use cut scenes to progress the story they were telling without making those cuts intrusive or forcing the viewer to play catch up. The Directors have their fingers on the trigger and are rapid firing the requirements with hardly a step being put wrong. Naturally I did have one tiny issue with the movie, and it involved one of Dad's props for getting his daughter to safety. It's not obvious where a bag's content came from, another 15 seconds or so covering that or at least making some implications would have been appreciated. I have my theory but after repeat viewing I still can't prove that is the right theory.
You know a movie is seriously good when there is no dialogue but you are getting the tension, are glued to your screen, and the Actors are handling the emotions like a well-rounded teen chicka, not that I'm saying there's any well rounded teen gals out there. Things are hinted out, growling in the distance ensuring we know danger lurks, time is moving - loved the scene of the waving grass as Dad transforms off screen - not sure if the Directors expected that to be a shock development, it wasn't, and there's this sort of English pastoral feel to the atmosphere. Simply put Cargo is a beautifully shot short with the cinematography in the top shelf category.
Andy Roderado (Father) handled the lead role like he was born for it, he almost carries the movie solo, another fine Actor we hope to see in a full length feature down the road. Dear I say it, and you know I'm going to, he even made zombie Dad an emotionally invested character for the audience, sorry not going into spoilers but there's one scene between zombie Dad and the daughter that is so emotionally charged that Fem DF had the tears flowing. And please don't quote me as saying this is some chick romance outing, it ain't, but it's working on the emotions manly due to Roderado kicking a major with his role. As Fem DF put it, the length parents will go for their kids.
Let's get the white elephants rounded up and out of the room before dealing with the real strength of Cargo. For gorehounds there's one scene involving guts that should have you sated and back in the kennel, those with weaker stomachs can look away, I was simply thinking that looks authentic, wonder if they used sheep viscera or something. Equally T&A has zero place in this one, it's not needed, and definitely not being inserted for the sole purpose of having it. Everyone happy, besides Dirty Dan of course, cool - moving along to the icing on top of this Christmas cake of the apocalypse.
You know how we are getting a zillion zombie movies a year but they are sort of blending into one homogenous puree of sameness? Notably exceptions are out there of course, Maggie, Extinction, Plague, et al. But overall the zombie sub-genre is getting boring. The Walking Dead television series has your back covered for the human drama aspect, and here's the real genius of Cargo, it shifts the point of view from the group of disparate survivors facing dangers worse than the undead, to a single character who is infected, has only one path to travel, and who will ultimately pay a price for achieving his sole remaining goal. Yes Cargo does work on the Shakespearean tragedy level, now that's not bad for a 7 minute short. A truly unique vision by the Directors, this is one of those shorts that will stick with you.
Two thumbs up for Cargo, this doesn't mean I'm going Tropfest team, simply I appreciate a well-crafted horror movie. Something unique, something to treasure, and hell yeah full recommendation. Take 10 minutes out of your schedule and check the embedded video below. Fingers crossed these Directors stick to making horror flicks and don't move onto completely inward looking tripe about the human condition in an inner Melbourne suburb or something.
Directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke are taking their short concept and turning it into a full length movie of the same name next year. A couple of thoughts, the central premise while being strong has been told, it doesn't need expansion. The introduction of a Koori tribal group, while being interesting enough, already has a feeling of being tagged on to bloat out the short movie to feature length. Does this mean I won't see the movie? - oh hell no, there opening night, the Directors rock and fingers crossed their lead returns to repeat the dose.