Zombies are the middle children of the otherworldly family. Vampires are the oldest brother who gets to have a room in the attic, all tripped out with a disco ball and shag carpet. Werewolves are the youngest, the babies, always getting pinched and told they're cute. With all that attention stolen away from the middle child zombie, no wonder she shuffles off grumbling, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha."

- Kevin James Breaux

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Web Series Review: THE ‘S’ STATE

I’m not sure what the ‘S’ state really is and neither will you from the first 5 episodes of the web series THE ‘S’ STATE.  The show is about a NYC native Ray (George H. Choat) who runs off to London to crash with his drug dealing cousin Vee (AC) but when he gets to his cousin’s flat he sees a woman tied up in the bed with her face covered.  Unbeknownst to him, Vee has been dealing in a stolen drug that when taken has strange side effects one of which is increased strength not to mention a cannibalistic-monster nature.  Vee has given the tied up woman in his flat – his girlfriend, a taste of this drug and now she has turned into a monster – literally with big eyes and cannibal tastes and a distorted look on her face.  Ray shows up in time to save Vee but he is too late to be of any other use as Vee has sold the drug to one of his neighbors Sylvia (Leila Al-Jeboury) who has given the drug to her elderly Nana Mary (Carrie Cohen) in the hopes of killing her but the drug has the opposite effect; Nana Mary is now healed and has increased strength and a voracious appetite.  Now Ray, Vee, and Sylvia must find a way to survive before their days are numbered.
Sounds like an interesting premise but the series is bogged down by a weak story, uneven pacing, and bland acting.  Only Cohen seems to be having any fun as the rest of the cast is bland in their roles and their characters are disposable.  The series tries to be funny but the direction is so uninspired that the setups fall flat.  There are a few moments where the cinematography is fine (especially when more obscure angles are used) but overall the series looks flat.  Since the web series takes place in only two locations (neighboring apartments on the same floor of a building complex) the art direction is also flat (which isn’t helped by the flat lighting).

Pacing is one of the best and worst things about the series.  The good thing is that the individual episodes are well laid out despite the lack of a true web series structure but each episode does end in a cliffhanger which is what a good web series of this nature should do.  The bad thing about the pacing is that the length of each episode is completely random.  One episode is 8 minutes while another 2 and a half minutes while a third is three minutes so the pacing in one episode may seem too long while in another it isn’t long enough.  I never got the impression that this was a web series but instead a feature length project that’s just been cut down for easy consumption.

The series is put together by someone named Blaise, who is producer/director/camera operator/editor and the toll of having one person handle all the main duties on a film production is never easy and the lack of a cohesive vision shows in the final product.  Despite the series’ many flaws Cohen chews up the scenery very well and the make-up effects for the monsters is quite good when taken into perspective of all the other flaws in the production.

To watch – THE ‘S’ STATE go to http://blip.tv/thesstate

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