The Australian zombie movie Cargo isn’t just the first foray into the realm of Netflix original fare for the country, it’s also an exciting spin on the traditional undead narrative. Rather than humans vs. zombies a la The Walking Dead, working through zombiehood for the betterment of the next generation is the crux of the plotline, which grew out of a viral (no pun intended) short film. Martin Freeman, the film’s star, spoke recently about how he came to the film and what it means to him.
In conversation with Deadline during the Tribeca Film Festival, Freeman touched on the fatherhood aspect of the film, whose central image is a zombie carrying a baby on its back. “It rang a bell, as a father,” the actor said. “You’re prepared to do all kinds of things as a father for your kids.” But as far as getting to that point, he said that he “was given the short and the screenplay at the same time.”
“Something about reading that image…. about a man that was so hell-bent on getting his daughter to safety in this terrible post-apocalyptic world” won him over to the central character who knew that “shortly he was about to become the undead. So before that, he better get his act together and set up this contraption where he’s goading himself on with rotting meat in order to get his daughter and another little girl to safety.” That driving force takes a lot of foresight and has a sort of switched power dynamic from that of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Maggie, which had a father-daughter/zombie relationship.
But this swap, this desperate, morbidly planning zombie dad, “I liked the weirdness of that, that image,” Freeman admitted. “But beyond that,” he said, “I liked the screenplay.” With weird, more experimental horror finding its audience via streaming, this could be the perfect fit for Netflix.