Human Cargo - Short Film Review

★★★

Written & Directed by: #RoryJoscelyn

Starring: #SamanthaAnderson, #LewisCartwright, #AliceRyan

Short Film Review by Taryll Baker

Poster for Human Cargo

Set in a future where Britain has a system in place to regulate the birthrate, Joanna and Greg are police officers assigned to collect women who breach this law and take them into custody for emergency procedures. A unique cyberpunk look into an authoritarian world where children come at a substantial premium.


As futuristic short films go, Human Cargo is one that doesn’t feel too far away from our present. If only for its use of (or the lack thereof) technology and small scale scenes. There’s a lot of intimate moments with the three main characters, and in such a short time, there’s a fair amount of development. In some ways it feels like a kind of spiritual spin-off of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, in that it has a very bleak and gloomy atmosphere, with the stripped-down visual style.


The performances from the cast are appropriately raw, with several scenes for each of the three actors to dig their teeth into the characters. With a bigger budget and a green light, Human Cargo has the potential to be a feature hit. I think the shorter runtime actually stops this from being greater. I’ve seen a few feature films adapted from shorts, so it’s not out of the question, and hopefully someday these actors get the chance to explore their characters further. That said, what we already have here is a fairly enjoyable and thought-provoking piece. Samantha Anderson and Alice Ryan proving that they can handle more emotionally demanding scripts, with Lewis Cartwright’s support adding a more held-back but strong presence.


With every human tale such as the one in Human Cargo, you expect an equally human score, and composer Toby Dunham delivers on that front. He creates a synthy ambience that lays the ground for the dreamy yet despairing piano that plays during some of the more devastating scenes in the film. His work supports the story without intruding too much, allowing the emotion to play out freely for both the performers and the audience.


I appreciated the focus on story rather than a high saturated look and flashy technology, though it could benefit from a cleaner, slightly more exciting visual palette to grab the average viewer’s attention, with the chance of them being engrossed in the layers beneath thereafter. Human Cargo is an entertaining short, and shows that writer and director Rory Joscelyn certainly has some big ideas ready to be presented on-screen.


Watch the trailer for Human Cargo below.

#TaryllBaker