Before I begin this review I will state outright that my co-host of The Criterion Project, Conrado Falco, has a small role in this film and we have had the director Abie Sidell and producer Trevor Wallace have come on our show and are the reason I was aware of the project. That said if I didn’t think it was quality I would not review it so I think I can be objective about it.
Recently attending both Sundance and SXSW I must have said 100 times- this would be so much better as a short. Too often interesting concepts for a featurette or short are stretched out to feature in order to make it marketable in a cineplex. This is a real shame and ruins some otherwise good ideas.
That said, one of the cool aspects of the new horror film Cram is its length- not a short but a featurette of 44 minutes. It would be really neat if we could get enough of these shorter genre films being made that a theater could combine them together to fill a feature film slot- Grindhouse style or like what they used to do at sci-fi Drive-ins. How fun would that be?
Anyway, Cram stars John DiMino as a college student Marc who is cramming for a college paper, getting little to no sleep, but the only problem is he didn’t read the book that the assignment is based on. He tries to get a friend Alice to let him use her paper but she refuses (of course because she would be punished along with him for turning in the same paper).
When he falls asleep writing his paper, he wakes up in a haze and an acid-trippy force has taken over the library. This is the most effective part of the film with director Sidell creating some compelling and spooky atmosphere. I like the way he used bright colors to draw the viewer into each aisle of the library.
As it gets more into fantasy the narrative started to lose me a little bit but as it’s only 44 minutes I didn’t feel frustrated long.
Overall, Cram is a scrappy little thriller that most anyone who has crammed for a test in college will understand. It’s available to watch for free on tubi so check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it.
7 out of 10
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