The synopsis of Cerebrum, written and directed by Arvi Ragu, reads: “A test subject at a memory transfer lab commits a crime he cannot remember.” Well, it is more complex and complicated than that; much more.
Kirk (James Russo) has created a way to back up your brain in an attempt to fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which his late wife suffered from. Tom (Christian James) comes home to help, or rather be his father’s guinea pig. Tom and Kirk do not get along because of a sketchy past. Their animosity is to the point where Tom wishes that his father died instead of his mother. After a night of helping his father, Tom finds his father dead, and he cannot recall what happened.
This is where the plot thickens and gets much more complicated. Since Tom is unaware of what happened to his father, he and Kirk’s assistant, Bruno (Anirudh Pisharody), decide to continue with Tom’s research as a way to get to the bottom of Kirk’s death. They continue the research by inserting the memory chip into a watch-like object as it sends memories to the brain. Tom uses his father’s backup brain to figure out how the technology works. This leads to more blackouts as it is a side-effect of the technology.
“…Tom finds his father dead, and he cannot recall what happened.”
As time goes on, it is discovered that more brains have been backed up than initially realized. Without giving too much away, once the characters find out about the other backup chips, a lot of twists and turns happen, and I mean a lot. It can sometimes be hard to keep up with the story because of how many times revelations occur. At nearly two hours long, Cerebrum has a twist occurring seemingly to be every fifteen minutes.
I enjoyed the film because it is somewhat reminiscent of the golden age of horror when the mad scientist plot was quite prominent. Kirk is the mad scientist trying to play God in a way where he wants the technology to benefit all human life. As we all know, science is often meant to be used for good, but it can equally be used for ill. And that’s what occurs here.
When it comes to the acting, the standout is lead actor Christian James. He does a great job at not only playing the role of Tom but also as Kirk during the time he has his father’s memory chip in. Kirk has a southern accent, so since Tom uses his memory several times during the movie, he also dons a southern accent. The accents also help tell who is who when all the twists begin to get a bit out of hand.
Cerebrum is an interesting idea to base a film on, but the number of twists and its lengthy runtime takes away from its brilliant concept. It is worth a watch if sci-fi thrillers are your thing. Just be sure to pay close attention to all of the details, and don’t forget to back up your brain!
"…the standout is lead actor Christian James."