Netflix’s excellent new zombie film Cargo stars Martin Freeman as a father trying to save his baby daughter in the zombie apocalypse, and even though it ends almost exactly as you might expect, the Australian-set science fiction horror story leaves the door open to one day explore its larger universe in a sequel.
Huge spoilers follow for Cargo.
Cargo just hit Netflix on May 18, and its inevitable conclusion is fairly straightforward. Just like in the award-winning short film the feature-length version builds upon, the father Andy Rose (Martin Freeman) is bitten by a “Viral” early in the movie. He has a narrow window of time to figure out how to save his baby Rosie, and after a few failed attempts at finding new caretakers for the child, Andy joins up with a young Indigenous girl named Thoomi (Simone Landers). Cargo offers the faintest of hints that Andy might find a cure from the mystical Cleverman and his flourishing Aboriginal tribe or otherwise overcome the virus through sheer love and force of will. But no, the film still ends on the image of a zombified man with a living baby on his back.
At Tribeca Film Festival in April, Cargo’s directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke told Inverse that this image was always in their mind when developing the story, but they also spoke about the potential for more films set in this universe.
Howling and Ramke said that there are currently no direct plans for a sequel or tie-in of any kind, they said that a direct sequel was “possible,” with Howling adding, “There are talks about a larger scope to the world, in terms of our involvement.” Considering that Cargo is only just releasing to a wider audience, those talks are probably still very far into their early stages.
But where could a sequel go?
Cargo does end on a hopeful note, so a future installment could expand upon a brighter future. Even though Andy does transform into a Viral and then get skewered on a stake, he ultimately fulfills his dire mission and succeeds as a father. He delivers Rosie and Thoomi (his other surrogate daughter) to an Indigenous tribe. The very last scene in the movie is a joyous one as the group of Indigenous Viral hunters return to their settlement in a secluded valley. There, children and elders welcome Rosie with open arms and laughter. There’s the sense that in an apocalypse caused by Western society struggling to control nature, the only ones who thrive are those that live in concert with nature.
Cargo makes it seem likely that, much like in The Walking Dead, the epidemic becomes the new normal, something that permanently changed the world. But there’s hope among those in the Indigenous society, leaving no doubt that Rosie will grow up and flourish alongside them. If there is a direct sequel, it’ll certainly be without Martin Freeman’s Andy, but it could always show a somewhat older Rosie helping rebuild the world. But it could also take another route.
Ramke and Howling said they always envisioned the story as part of a larger world stricken by this virus. The Australian government distributed countless containment kits that the infected can use to euthanize themselves. When asked if this epidemic might be localized to Australia — akin to 28 Days Later taking place on Great Britain — Ramke said, “In our minds, we were always thinking global.” Cargo showed us how one father saved his daughter in the beautiful Australian south. Andy seemingly only survived as long as he did because he was in such a secluded area. So what happened in the rest of the world?
Rather than follow up with Rosie in Australia, a Cargo sequel could instead explore how this virus affected society somewhere else. If a sequel does happen, then that almost certainly will be the case.
Cargo is currently available to stream only on Netflix.