CARGA: A Slick, Genre-Blending Horror

Carga, a Spanish thriller set in Iraq, follows couple Marta and Juan (Tania Watson and Agustín Mateo) to an abandoned cigarette factory to uncover its secrets. It’s a simple yet ominous setup, and setting. With the couple venturing into the great unknown, director and co-writer, Yad Deen, does a marvellous job of building tension in just 19 minutes.

Hard Times in a Strange Land

Marta is a renowned documentarian whose presence is acknowledged—and reasoning speculated—when she arrives in Iraq. Her previous work has taken her to Chernobyl and Afghanistan but she is on the hunt for better stories. Her boyfriend, Juan, is a filmmaker and, in concern for her safety, joins Marta on her latest expedition. Within mere moments, we understand this couple and root for them, whatever their future plight.

CARGA: A Slick, Genre-Blending Horror
source: Yad Deen

Watson and Mateo are convincing as a couple but the focus lies on Watson as Marta. She is strong and fearless, independent, and quietly pensive with her inquisitive eyes never letting up, yet she is not without vulnerabilities. Watson is simply brilliant.

Assisting the couple is a local driver, Ahmed (Rawand Khalid Saeed), who is taking them to the factory far out in the desert. On the way, they are stopped by a security checkpoint guard (Youssef Osman) and, without giving too much away; the scene brilliantly elevates both tension and suspicion and is key as to how the rest of the film plays out. Writers, Yad Deen and Chesco Simón, use dialogue sparingly but it only enhances and offers comparisons between characters; the concerning and caring nature between Marta and Juan compared to the blunt and somewhat unbridled speech between the couple, and Ahmed and the guard.

CARGA: A Slick, Genre-Blending Horror
source: Yad Deen

Once inside the factory, moments of stillness highlight the desolate nature of what surrounds them. However, the tension mounts quickly and Deen expertly handles the sudden clash of genres as the film picks up its pace. The music by Harry Franceschi perfectly compliments every moment but never overruns the plot, it only ever enhances.

Carga: Conclusion

Within the horror/thriller genre, wandering off the beaten path to find haunted or abandoned places is not uncommon; it is becoming a frequently used trope. It is unknown as to what is in store for these characters as they begin their journey, which is certainly intriguing, more so due to its unique location. Beautiful scenic landscapes are contrasted with the cold and isolated factory, the camera never failing to highlight this stark contrast but unafraid of close-ups when the scene demands it.

Carga is a gripping short film. Its marvellous build-up is ever so slightly hindered by a speedy conclusion—it’s a film you want to be longer—but it is remarkable for what it achieves in such a short space of time. Deen, previously a documentarian himself, masters the thrill yet apprehension of setting off on an adventure and, the first half, in particular, skilfully creates tension and a duo to root for. It’s also really fun.

Carga had an incredibly successful festival run throughout 2018 and 2019, including showings and various wins at the likes of the Annual Copenhagen Film Festival, the HollyShorts Film Festival, Screamfest LA, and the San Francisco Independent Film Festival, amongst many others. Carga was acquired for domestic distribution by Sony Pictures Entertainment and ShortsTV.

For more information about Carga go here, or head to their social media pages: @cargafilm.

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