‘CRAM’ (2023) Review – Study Like Your Life Depends On It

I think we can all relate to procrastination, and making time for the things we want to do. We put off important things we know that we should do and fall victim to the consequences. Perhaps there’s a deeper reason why we put them off. What if we were confronted by our own fears and driving forces all in one night? What if sitting down and studying is a futile attempt to convince our subconscious to agreeably conform to our nihilistic destiny? The short film Cram (2023) asks these questions, and more.

Cram (2023) Synopsis

Marc Lack has a paper due tomorrow for finals. His peers give him the tough love routine. Their best suggestion is the strategy: “Cram” – the art of staying up all night to cram in all information. Only to regurgitate it tomorrow and be done with it. In Marc’s attempts, he dozes off in the library late to find his work is missing and this library has an agenda of its own.

Cram was written and directed by Abie Sidell with his company Radical Rhinoceros Pictures, and produced by Terror Films. The film stars John DiMino (Zo in Exile (2022), Brandon Burton (Atrabilious (2023), Carolina Do (Snitches (2017), and Rolando Chusan (Invasion (2021). Cram won Audience Award for Best Dark Matters Feature at the Austin Film Festival 2021.

Cram (2021) Poster art.

The Payoff

I don’t typically review shorts, however Cram came in at forty five minutes and gave me plenty to chew on. Seeing the trailer I initially felt this was going to have a paranormal thriller effect and what I received was definitely a darker psychological horror experience. Cram well portrayed the futility of being a self-centered, fear-driven young academic. Marc Lack doesn’t see the point of the process. He struggles to see the purpose of now or the point of future success. Paradoxically driven only by the fear of failure and what light his peers see him under. A true young man’s authentic dilemma.

“Study like your life depends on it.”

Mark Lack (John DiMino) Craming –Cram 2023

Marc’s in an existential crisis. His friends are more aware of it than he is. He is struggling with self-value, roles, and purpose in his life. When he awakens in the library he experiences projections of his ambitions and self-loathing. Repeating mistakes of overshooting the mark and overstaying his welcome at the metaphorical party scene.

He confronts the rock bottom of succumbing to a path of uninspiring studies to an unfulfilling career. Only because he’ll do anything just to not feel stuck anymore.

Final thoughts

Cram looked and sounded amazing. The cinematography captured great twists and upside-down angles that captured the inner turmoil that haunts Marc. To quote Abie Sidell: “The sound designer Daniela Hart went off” on this movie and it really showed up when we meet “Goopert”.

Director Abie Sidell and John DiMino getting the Goopert shot.-Cram 2023

Cram had me considering a lot of my own young life and I couldn’t help but have compassion for Marc Lack. Abie’s medium length feature ran for forty five minutes and I would’ve liked to have seen Marc experience more outcomes, but I feel this movie dismounted very well after making its point. In its own dark and nihilistic way. Nietzsche would be proud.

Cram is on digital and on-demand on March 17th. Check out the trailer below!

About Sean Stewart

Father. Artist. Writer. Horror Fanboy.

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