Cerebrum is a sci-fi thriller that should feel like a grand exploration of the mind, Inception-style. After Tom (Christian James) agrees to assist his estranged father’s Alzheimer patient experiment, all hell breaks loose when Tom’s accused of a crime he has no memory of committing. The trial, which sees his brain and memories digitally backed up, appears to have a dangerous endgame. Tom races against the clock to discover the truth about the terrible murder, while teetering close to the edge of madness. Echoes of Minority Report and Memento show brief glimmers of promise.
The premise is brimming with unrealized potential, collapsing under the weight of its lofty ambitions. Writer/director Arvi works together with co-writer Gary D. Houk to create a fascinating story, but it becomes a bit too overblown. You have to admire the commitment to realizing this vision—if some of this was shaved down, it would have been considerably more palatable. Instead, you get a movie with the best of intentions that overstays its welcome. With a considerable amount of trimming, a script polish, and a punched-up final act, Cerebrum could’ve been a genuinely great sci-fi film. As it stands, it’s a mind-bending slog with brilliant ideas that never take flight. This is one mind trip best left forgotten.
Cerebrum screens at WorldFest in Houston on April 25th, and is available On Demand starting May 4th, 2021.