Indie Movie Review – Cram

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Terry Pratchett came up with the concept of L-space. He said that the written word had powerful, magical properties and that in large quantities all books warp space and time around them. You’ve heard the saying “knowledge is power”. Well, books are collections of knowledge therefore books are power.  And where do you get a lot of books gathered together? Why, libraries of course! Oh…there and those TARDIS like bookshops which cannot possibly be as large on the outside as they appear on the inside.

So why is the old fool wittering on about libraries I hear you saying to yourselves. In short, Cram is, mainly, set in a library. I say “mainly” for two reasons. The first is that there are a few scenes which show the action away from the main reading rooms and even the library itself. The other reason is that, apart from the first five or so minutes, the action takes place in a dream. So, while the majority of the film is in a dreamscape, not all of the dream takes place in the library.

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Cram starts off with three students (Marc – John DiMino, Alice – Carolina Do, and Gonzalo – Conrado Falco III) sitting around a table in the college library. The students are talking about a project which, as is the way of the world, Alice has completed, Gonzalo has used performance enhancing drugs to get through, while Marc has barely started and is struggling with the looming deadline. Marc is left alone to get on as best as he can. Following an interrupted bout of self gratification, presumably to get his pulse racing, Marc goes back into the library.

He starts trying to get on top of the job in hand; typing, reading, highlighting, and all the other things that signify studying in films. Eventually he falls asleep. And then he wakes up. Or does he? He looks at his notepad and laptop and all his hard work has disappeared. From then on he is in a mildly surrealistic dream environment; I particularly liked the nod to Magritte’s Le fils de l’homme. I’ll be honest in that it is not your usual dream presentation. There are a few really wild bits and pieces but the majority is more like the realistic dreams that you actually have. 

No Human Being Would Stack Books Like This

I’m talking more about those dreams where you are walking through Sainsbury’s with no trousers on rather than wrestling unicorns down a coal mine. This familiarity is what makes the odd occurrences stand out. If the whole screen was full of dancing goblins and  limboing zombies then you wouldn’t notice the subtle movement in the background. You know…the one that’s not supposed to be there. So the little things that you spot as being out of place do their job of putting you on edge and making you feel uneasy. All thanks to writer/director/producer Abie Sidell and the cast. Did it all make sense? No. Does that matter? No! Was it entertaining? Oh, Yes!

Cram is a short film; I’m not sure if it is officially a “short” or not but, at under forty five minutes, it’s definitely not a main feature. It reminds me of the old days when a trip to the cinema consisted of a short or a cartoon, a B film, and the usual trailers and adverts. Then the usherette would show up selling choc ices and Kia Ora all before the main feature started! Cram would fit in nicely as a B film alongside any of the modern generation of horror films. It would be a tasty little amuse-bouche for any horror bill and would hold it’s head up against any feature. I just wish that there were more opportunities to catch these shorter than usual length films.

Movie Grade: B


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