Directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke, the latter of whom is also the writer, are the creative forces behind this week’s new Netflix feature film Cargo. Martin Freeman stars as Noah, a survivor in the outback of Australia of a plague that, as these things tend to do, turns its victims into zombie-like creatures after a 48-hour incubation period. A violent attack by the creatures has killed his wife and left him infected, with the clock ticking.
He goes on the run with his daughter to find someone to take care of her after he’s gone, encountering various other survivors with their own motives and concerns along the way. Eventually he finds a young Indigenous girl who might be his best hope but who has her own journey she’s on.
Andy is walking toward the camera with the baby girl on his back on the poster, a sunset in back of him. Looming in the background is also a hand that’s literally reaching up from the ground, threatening to grab the two travelers. That it looks somewhat decayed and craggly is the only real indication that this is meant to sell a zombie story. “The future is fragile” helps convey the stakes, namely that keeping the baby alive is important for the survival of everyone, not to mention personal.
At first the trailer just makes it look like Andy has been in an unfortunate car accident. When we see “save her” written in blood on the inside of the other car it’s clear something more sinister is happening. He interacts with a few other people who are surprised to see someone who’s still human and get the idea that he has about 48 hours before he succumbs to the infection transferred when he was bitten by, it seems, the baby’s parents. Some other people are using the end of the world to indulge their worst tendencies but he’s determined to save not just the baby but an aboriginal girl some rednecks were about to kill. That girl offers to get him medicine but he may not have the time or opportunity to get there with her.
I can’t very well say this does anything wholly original with the zombie genre, but I appreciate the way the trailer shows the stakes are very personal and unselfish for Andy. Freeman also shows he has a range that would surprise some people, playing a fully dramatic character here that is just trying to retain what humanity he has for as long as he can.
Online and Social
Nothing here. There were some social pages setup by the production company for the theatrical release the film seems to have received in Australia but nothing from Netflix domestically in the U.S.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nope, goose egg here too.
Media and Publicity
Netflix brought the movie to the Tribeca Film Festival to help accumulate some buzz, which was very much the case, most of it positive. Director Yolanda Ramke also spoke while there about the story and making the movie with Freeman.
It’s strange to me that there wasn’t more done on the publicity front given there were appearances on at least a bit of the festival circuit. Freeman is pretty hot right now given his role on “Sherlock” and his high profile thanks to a few appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so he could have helped sell it. As it is, the campaign sells what seems to be a slightly original take on the zombie movie genre, with the focus on familial responsibility.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.