Seldom have I been given the opportunity to review something that doesn’t fall inside the catacombs of horror cinema, so I always relish when one arises. I didn’t know much about STATES going in, only that Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes) was a part of it. Dug her then, wanted to see more of her, sign me up!
Now, I’m going to come right out and say it before we get this ball rolling – I’m an absolute sucker for road trip movies. Dumb and Dumber was a childhood go-to, and I’ve honestly watched Crossroads so many times I’m truly embarrassed to admit I couldn’t even estimate the number. There is just something about them – The adventure, the little glimpses of areas I have yet travelled to, the bizarre circumstances that can arise… All these things fascinate me in my daily life. I’m obsessed with travelling, history, and learning about the lives of those around me because I am a firm believer that that is our purpose here on earth. I’m getting a little philosophical here maybe, but in summation, I just really dig how diverse all of our lives are and I love exploring that more than anything, which is exactly the experience STATES provided me with.
I was going to jokingly start this review with a simple sentence – ‘Holy shit, I loved this movie’. Straight to the point, and 100% accurate. I’m not sure how to describe the story, because there isn’t much of one to describe – It is an extremely visual film, the images often speak for themselves, but I will say that it functions as an intertwined anthology following multiple characters as they hitch-hike around the United States for various reasons.
The travel aspect was incendiary – I got to feast upon the alien imagery of Roswell, the glittery lights of Las Vegas, the peaks of Utah… The virtual sightseeing was truthfully beyond compare, I was entirely in awe from the moment I pressed play. I’m still not over how beautifully this film displayed the varying corners of the country, and how each offers an entirely unique experience. On top of it all, viewers are provided with fascinating tidbits of history via dialogue – Everything from Old Hollywood history to true crime, which was a really wonderful accentuating device to this film that I hadn’t been expecting.
History and sightseeing aside, I just really dug how the entire film was one giant character study of what is entirely fictitious, but with very real characters. I felt immersed in each experience, as if I were getting to know these people being presented before me. I’m having difficulty emphasizing this in words because honestly, the atmosphere is what makes this film so strong.
Though the story isn’t exactly linear, neither is life. The only other movie that I feel could contend with displaying how strange situations can suddenly spawn out of nothing would be Martin Scorsese’s little-seen feature, After Hours. Some viewers may wonder ‘what is the point of this?’ and others enjoy the hell out of the ride because they’ve been there. So while STATES may not be a one-size-fits-all kind of film, for those specific audience members seeking adventure and realism, do not hesitate to bask in its all-encompassing glory.