★★★★ out of ★★★★★
You think you had it rough in college? Chances are that you never had an experience like the one the protagonist in Cram has. Talk about a hell of a night in the library!
Directed by Abie Sidell
Those who attended university or are still doing so most likely knew or know someone like Marc Lack (John DiMino), the main character in writer/director Abie Sidell’s horror fantasy Cram. Marc is the type who prefers to spend more time on party substances than on studying, relying on “borrowing” work from fellow students or getting by on sheer luck. On a night before a big assignment is due, however, he finds himself alone in the closed school library at night. Well, alone only in the human sense, that is, because some supernatural forces are at play.
Sidell works some sharp satire about college life into his film while putting Marc through multiple wringers. From vampiric fellow students to diabolical entities representing academia to the more down-to-Earth horror of winding up uninvited to a graduation party at which he doesn’t belong, Marc experiences a terror-filled trip. And a gorgeous looking trip it is, beautifully helmed and realized by Sidell, with wonderful cinematography from Felix Handte. Special Makeup Effects Artist Beatrice Sniper, whose credits include 2018’s Black Wake and this year’s The Scary of Sixty-First, turns in super work. John Hanford’s special effects are also highly impressive. The film boasts cool creature design, some body horror, and other fear-fare elements. DiMino gives a wholly believable performance, heading up a solid cast, with Brandon Burton as The Master of the Books making for a fine, creepy nemesis.
Cram features a wicked sense of humor to go along with its more chilling elements. For a trippy school-related journey not far removed from a cross between Herculean efforts and Dante-like levels of Hell, seek this one out.
Review by Joseph Perry
Cram screens as part of Austin Film Festival , which runs from October 21–28, 2021.
For more information on Austin Film Festival, visit https://austinfilmfestival.com/.