When American fugitive Ray seeks refuge with his cousin on a South East London council estate, he finds himself in the middle of a mess that forces him to stop running. A new street drug (skank) supplied by Ray’s cousin Vee is turning people into monsters. Neighbour Sylvia buys it for her gran to supress her constant bitching. Nana seeks revenge when she gains superpowers and a taste for blood and Ray, Vee and Sylvia are trapped on the top floor of the tower block to face the consequences of their actions.
I started watching this with absolutely no idea where it was going to go or what kind of film it was, so this meant that it came as a complete surprise when a seemingly innocent girl tied to a bed turned out to be, well, a monster! The S State explores a world where a new drug has the ability to turn people into super strong psychos who want to attack and maim everything in their path. It is up to a group of three young people in a tower block to solve this conundrum, but how will they achieve this exactly? (I’m guessing the ‘S’ in The S State stands for Skank, the name of the drug in question, but this is never explicitly mentioned.)
Quickly, just something that I found a little unsettling whilst watching The S State – what was with the accents? Whilst claiming to be set in South East London, the accents appeared to be all over the place. This is not a huge issue, I just thought it was distracting. Similarly, the whole back story about being one of them being a fugitive seemed completely unnecessary to me. What did it add to the film?
Nothing. It was thrown in there randomly to try and add some emotion, but it really had no impact at all. Mixing horror and comedy is a very popular technique at the moment, especially with British films. I did think this managed to be moderately funny, but was perhaps too laboured at times. The comedy should naturally flow from the situation, not become strained out ‘just because’. I thought that the old lady was delightfully crazy (before any drugs had even been consumed!) and there was something about her excessive coughing which really tickled me. The special effects (which were actually very minor) were used to make the faces of the ‘monsters’ seem less human, and they were obviously done as a bit of a slap-dash job. However, the more I looked at it, the more it managed to disturb me! It was the fact that it was so subtle yet so blatant at the same time – I didn’t quite know what to make of it.
The S State was fairly slow paced and some scenes were dragged out way longer than necessary. A lot of the time, hefty amounts of dialogue about the main characters deciding what to do took a whole lot longer than them actually doing it. Whilst this is probably more accurate of how it would happen in real life, this is a film! We want action! We want decisions! We want some kicking of monsters butts! Even some of the acting seemed a little overdone, what with the exaggeratedly comedic ‘I’m terrified’ faces. It was mildly amusing, but kind of irritating too, if I’m honest.
The ending wasn’t exactly the hugest shocker in the world, but I always admire something a bit unconventional. Coupled with the askew camera angles and fish-eye lens, the entire movie defied the usual rules of filmmaking. There were many flaws with The S State (which I have already gone into), but overall, I think that I found it enjoyable to watch. If it had just been a bit shorter, this would immediately improve it a lot, but at the end of the day, it’s only half an hour. What have you got to lose?
The S State (short film) (2012)