CARGO by Yolanda Ramke
This is a film with a very dark, negative and pessimistic perspective on the future, which would have a deadly disease kill multitudes and those left behind are dehumanized and reduced to the state of brutes.
Alhamdulillah, there are a few human beings that act decently and find Signature strengths like courage, humanity, resilience, gratitude, kindness and they represent the chance that the planet may have…well, Homos sapiens, since other species would continue to live.
Martin Freeman is Andy and the hero of this film, trying to escape this plague of the future by living on the river, on a boat that is fast running out of supplies and the couple face the conundrum: do we keep sailing on the water, where we are safer, but face starvation- Andy’s option- or we get off and walk the earth to get food and risk death by disease- the view of his wife, Kay.
The man and his partner have a daughter, Rosie and they need to get some food or she will die of hunger, so when the wreck of another boat is near, Andy takes the chance to try and see what he can get on board of the partly submerged vessel.
Indeed, there are supplies there and even a bottle of wine, so the effort was worth it, even if there is a sound behind a closed door and for next try, it proves it to be fatal and makes one think of the psychology classic- The Gift of Fear, which argues that there are many situations that seem perilous, our systems warn us and we should avoid them.
Kay takes the risk in her turn and explores the sinking boat to get more things, like the razor she is glad to find, which she would want her man to use on the beard that she wants off his face, only to be attacked by whatever is in there and bitten- if that is the word- and infected.
They know the symptoms, the time it takes before one transforms into a sort of zombie, but there seems to be very little or nothing that can be done, except attach the watch with the timer and see the fifty-eight – was it?- hours expire and try to face the convulsions, the pain and vomiting.
A standoff takes place, for the woman understands what happened, the consequences, the inevitable death and more importantly, the danger she would pose to her daughter and partner once the transformation is under way and she is no longer Kay, but some dangerous creature inhabiting her body.
The hero opposes the idea of resignation and separating from the infected mother of his child and he insists that the loss of blood would make her die in a shorter time- just a few hours, maybe three- than what it takes the virus or whatever that is to take her life.
He insists on getting off the boat, against her will and her declared statement that this is her call, they get a car- that is so always waiting in this film on a few occasions and in others as well- and they manage to drive away, in the direction of a hospital.
As they dispute again when the woman feels the pain and the upcoming transformation and she wants to jump from the moving car, a man appears in the middle of the road and as the driver is avoiding him, they hit a tree and a large chunk perforates the woman’s abdomen.
She is already a zombie and her earlier stand is somewhat vindicated- she was right after all and she is now deadly- for she bites Andy, he is in turn infected and has only a short time to live.
This becomes a race to try and save the baby, who looks like she is not even one year old, and in this the film is different, for after just ten minutes or so, one of the protagonists is already turned into a different creature and we know that the hero would soon be in the same state.
It looks like we have an early Unhappy Ending and we are just sitting in front of the screen to see what happens to Rosie, if there is someone left there to protect the baby from zombies, pandemic and a Post-Apocalyptic world with little to offer in terms of hope and perspective.
In the first instance they find Vic, who seems to offer the coveted chance, for he has a nice partner, although not his wife we would soon find, Lorraine, but gradually, we learn that this is actually a despicable, abhorrent savage that keeps real humans in cages as…bates for the zombies he hunts down and the hero soon clashes with this brute, is placed in a trap with an Aboriginal girl and when they escape- after some heart stopping moments- they are saved by Lorraine who is shot when interposing between the monster and the fugitives.
Thoomi, the Aboriginal girl, is now the only chance Andy has to save his own daughter, but even if they manage to escape temporarily, the cruel, sadistic lunatic is on their tracks and they cross his path once more, when he has the chance and seems to be willing to kill Rosie in revenge.
There are quite a few scenes that are familiar from other motion pictures with the same, lugubrious theme, but the fact that we know very early what the fate of the main characters would be seems original, even if it cannot prevent audiences from hoping against reason that there would be something or someone to save the hero, maybe the Aboriginal knowledge of various herbs and cures and if not that, at least one of their prayers or something!
CARGO is not one of the classics of the genre, but it is watchable nevertheless.