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Cramming [Dan Perlman, USA, 2020]

Cramming is a short about two American high school friends who are nervously awaiting a history exam. Once the exam is completed it becomes clear to their teachers that one or both of them has cheated. The film follows the investigation into who it could have been.

This short is filled with loads of talented young actors that will hopefully one day make their way on to the big screen. Every student in this feels real and they all have pretty distinct personalities that make the film very characterful. The main two boys are especially watchable, and even though they do have their moments of slightly over-the-top acting, they are great as a pair of angsty young students. This same compliment goes to the teachers as well, most notably the eldest and most obnoxious of the staff.

Cramming’s directing is impressive too. There’s a good use of close-ups to symbolise how hemmed in the students feel. Almost every shot of the film has the two main boys closed into some form of tight space. This is some fantastic symbolism and is the sign of a director to look out for. The director’s name is Dan Perlman, producers reading should certainly keep that name logged.

The soundtrack is minimalistic, with only one tune playing in one or two scenes. It’s not much but the tune in question is a catchy little number that is very pleasing to listen to. The film is subtitled throughout and though they are very well timed, placed, and add a sense of personality to the film, they still look slightly cheap. This film wouldn’t really be lessened if these subtitles were excised.

Cramming perfectly captures that feeling of stress before an exam at school. This is thanks to a great ensemble cast and fabulous directing, and with some students going through exam season, it’s the perfect short film to watch to make you feel a little less alone in that pre-test anxiety.


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