Cerebrum (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Cerebrum (2021) Review

Horrorific content by angie on December 08th, 2022 | Movie Review | Sci-Fi, Drama, Psychological, Thriller, Mystery, Dysfunctional Family, Mad Scientist, B-Horror

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It's about a test subject at a memory transfer lab who commits a crime he cannot remember.

Cerebrum was directed by Arvi and stars James Russo (Undying, Little Red Devil, and Chill), Alexxis Lemire (Torn Hearts, Truth or Dare), Christian James (Hell Fest), John RubyAnirudh PisharodyAly TrasherChristopher Carrington, and Jesse Willhite.

Cerebrum (2021) Review

Director Arvi and co-writer Gary D. Houk's debut feature film, "Cerebrum," premiered at the Worldfest Film Festival on April 25th. The film, which tells the story of experiments with human memory and father-son estrangement, caught the attention of festival-goers ahead of its screening. But, is it as good as was expected?

Davis is returning to his hometown and moving back with his estranged father, Kirk. Tim is unhappy about this reunion, while Chloe is pleased to see Davis back in town.

Kirk is a scientist who has developed a new invention that he believes could change the world. He's offered Tim a large sum of money to be the test subject for his creation. First, he's looking for a way to digitally store the contents of his brain, like a backup of his personality in case he loses his memory. Next, he must find a method of making it last longer than fifteen minutes.

Tom wakes up with weird memories in his yard, accused of murdering his father, which he has no memory of.

It's pretty clear at this point that messing with people's memories is not a good idea. This isn't even something that's being done in an advanced corporate or university setting. Dr. Davis's lab is dirty and cluttered in the middle of nowhere Texas. And his equipment is just a laptop and headphones connected to what looks like a gaming computer case. It even has a bottle of Absolut vodka to perfect the classic, Al Adamson-style low-budget mad scientist movie.

Unfortunately, Cerebrum doesn't go into the science behind the story, whether it's plausible or not. Perhaps the author, Arvi, knows how far-fetched it is and decided not to try explaining it. On the other hand, it's possible that the true purpose of the sci-fi element in the movie is to provide a hook for the domestic drama and mystery that make up the rest of the story.

Cerebrum's domestic drama is very over-the-top, with neither father nor son being particularly likable or subtle about their feelings. Listening to them argue using clunky dialogue and clichéd accusations get old quickly. In this film, after Kirk dies, Tom starts loading his father's memories to finish his research. However, this is not necessarily a good thing. James is good at playing the role of both Tim and Kirk in Tim's body. The back-and-forth in the videos they leave for each other is more effective in exploring their relationship and issues than their arguments.

There's a lot of lazy technobabble that gets misrepresented as explanations in the film. Especially in the last hour, as they try to finish the research and figure out how Tim was set up before the side effects of being somebody else takes their toll.

The film makes it clear from the outset that Tom is guilty of the crime he's accused of; there is no mystery as to his guilt. The person who set him up is also easily guessed. Despite not being authorized, he still manages to access the lab and use the equipment. There are no security measures in place to prevent him from doing so. This means that there's not much sense of urgency about any of this.

Worth Watching? 

Cerebrum could have been an exciting piece of science fiction at ninety minutes. But at two hours, it's too long, and there's too much talking. The science fiction in the film is not very scientific; it's like magic. And the thriller element is not thrilling. The film's performances and occasional bright spots are buried in a sea of blandness. There's no hidden scene, so there's no reason to subject yourself to the horrible acoustic country song that plays over the end credits.

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