The usual mindset when referring to any zombie related film and/or story mainly has to do with action, guns, and lots of blood and gore. Recently, many zombie-related films/stories don’t really consist of much thought and mainly follow an A to B guideline. What is meant by A to B, for those who don’t fully understand, is that the plotline is basically just cause to effect without anything substantial that really affects the audience. After a while, I slowly gave up hope on anyone being able to make a zombie film without constant shooting and gore (besides Walking Dead, that’s an exception). Until, I came across a short film entered in the Tropfest Australia 2013 Film Festival named “Cargo.” Directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke and produced by Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke, Marcus Newman, and Daniel Foeldes, “Cargo” went on to become a finalist and a highly-acclaimed zombie film. “Cargo” redefines how zombie films should be made, combining the zombie topic with a suspenseful and dramatic story filled with hope, sadness, and a father’s love. The film was a first amongst a horde of zombie films, giving substance and originality to such an overused topic. By the end of the short, audiences will surely feel a sense of sadness to at least some degree, and that is what makes this film stand out so well.
The plot jumps straight into the action and suspense as the muffled sounds and visuals of what seem to be a car crash, pre and post, fills the audience’s eyes and ears. A disoriented man slowly reenters reality to the sight of what seems to be his zombified wife desperately trying to get at him from the driver’s seat. After discovering a bite on his arm, he escapes the car and is able to save his infant daughter in the back seat just in the nick of time. The film then cuts to a frame of calmness as he embraces his child, and then it is revealed that his wife is dead, presumably from his own doing. Hearing some movement in the woods, he runs off with his child. With his child strapped to his back, there is then a short montage of him escaping, hatching up a plan for when he becomes zombified himself. The TSI (Balloon) comes into play when the duo find an old house with party decorations lied out on a table on the front porch. To keep his daughter happy, he inflates a balloon and ties it to his backpack for her enjoyment. After lots of walking, the signs of zombification start to present themselves. He starts getting tired, and eventually is no longer able to walk. He falls to the ground, and the process overcomes him. The scene then cuts to him as a zombie, however, he is able to keep himself going with his daughter still on his back through an elaborate scheme. He ties his hands together so they can’t reach back and grab the child, and with a stick, he sets up a fishing line mechanism with meat at the end to keep him moving. He is then shot by a sniper, and three survivors go up to investigate. They eventually discover his baby, and the film cuts to a scene of the woman survivor embracing it while the two men are burying the father in the background.
Re-framed note: This short had a strong presence of something we discussed in my English class. During a period during the course, we were heavily analyzing the very first paragraph of the book A Tale of Two Cities, and one thing that was analyzed constantly was the fact that there was always two opposing sides. I think that this relates to “Cargo” in the sense of premise. Becoming a zombie is never a good thing, which represents the darkness. However, before becoming a zombie, the father hatched a plan to save the life of his infant daughter, which I believe represents the light.