By: Amanda Guarragi
We have all attempted to pull an all-nighter while trying to finish a paper or study for our finals. Writer-director Abie Sidell, places you in the mind of a student trying to get through the night. We see that Marc (John DiMino) is desperate to finish his finale paper and he’s spending his night at the library. After dozing off, Marc awakens to discover that his paper vanished. He goes searching through the stacks of books in the library, to see if he finds anyone lurking. Turns out, Marc is not alone in this library, and he is scared to be in there. As he tries to leave, the library has other plans for him. The score that accompanies this descent into madness really adds so much to the movie and keeps you engaged.
It is hard to always focus on writing a paper and majority of the time procrastination gets the best of us. What is really enjoyable about Cram is that Sidell shows procrastination and anxiety in many forms throughout the film. Not only do we directly see Marc being distracted but it goes so much farther than that. We see him spiralling into different scenarios instead of writing his paper. He even tries Adderall for the first time, which also causes him to hallucinate, distracting him even more. What Sidell really taps into is every college students worst nightmare; the anxiety that stays with you forever after college.
Marc is a complex character with his own demons and it is shown in the alternate universe Sidell creates. Once we get to the core of Marc, there is one scene that directly impacts his mental state, and it has stayed with me. When Marc has an open conversation with a wounded version of himself, that’s where it really affected me. There will always be that voice in your head, but to actually physically see it, struggling in front of you, it makes an impact. Of course, all this is up to interpretation, but that one scene was executed so well. The conversation of stress and anxiety surrounding college students should really be addressed because it does affect many of us.
Cram starts out as an upbeat, late night study session, but turns into a college student’s worst nightmare. Sidell nailed the anticipation in each scene, leading up to some obscure moments shared with Marc. The supernatural elements were integrated nicely and the red lighting was a nice touch. This movie showed procrastination at its finest, while symbolically showing the mental state of the student in those moments. It also has great pacing and some great song choices, to really get into the mindset of a college student. It’s bold, fun, and very engaging.