CLUE meets CUBE in this Post Apocalyptic Cinematic Puzzle
When I cover film festivals I tend not to dig in too deep about the films I plan to check out beforehand, because one of my favorite experiences is randomly watching a film, with no expectations, and being utterly blown away. That would definitely be my experience with the razor sharp sci-fi whodunnit Cryo, which screened this weekend as part of The Chattanooga Film Festival. The Barrett Burgin’s feature length debut is the story of a group of scientists mysteriously awakened to gunshots from a cryosleep experiment sometime in the distant future, with no idea who they are or why they are awake. Upon exploring their sealed bunker, they discover a pool of blood and the group begins to suspect someone among them may not be who they claim to be. This all while they still try to recover their own memories, which are slow to return after the procedure.
Out of the gate Cryo immediately grabs you as it introduces its cast of familiar character archetypes, who are referred to by either their role in the experiment (doctor, soldier, engineer) or the number on their coveralls. This gives the audience time to get to know them, as they literally get to know themselves, and it’s a great piece of writing that allows this to build the foundation of these characters before us. This wouldn’t be nearly as effective if not for the casting here. Most of these faces may be familiar, in smaller parts on bigger properties, but here they are out in the forefront. It’s these captivating performances coupled with a well honed script that elevates this material into something much more than a fun sci-fi thriller. The best comparison would be catching Cube on VHS, after blindly renting the new release based on the cover. It’s that kind of cleverness of story, that allows you to overlook the rough edges of the production, because you’re so engaged trying to solve the puzzle put before you by the filmmakers.
Cryo is a wonderfully executed sci-fi whodunit that just tears through its two hour runtime, while keeping you on the edge of your seat every step of the way. There’s a deft hand at work balancing all the moving parts in a film like this, while also relegating the solution to the film’s narrative puzzle just out of reach. It was a feat to behold and something that will definitely make me curious as to what Barrett Burgin does next given this film was such an imaginative and atmospheric work, that still managed to stick the landing after nearly two hours. Cryo will melt your brain, and will no doubt be the next streaming cult title once the audience discovers this gem of of a indie on their streaming platform of choice.