Bespectacled Californian teen Scott (Douglas Smith, CITIZEN DUANE) speaks into his camcorder, introducing himself to us and advising us that he is documenting his last day on earth - by the end of the day he promises to commit suicide.

After a hearty breakfast of cornflakes, Scott is dropped off at high school with his camcorder and immediately lets his pot-smoking friend Brian (Cody McMains, THE VICIOUS CIRCLE) in on his secret. Brian's reaction is a typical "Cool, man!".

By the end of their first lesson, half the school seems to be aware of Scott's intentions. His friends - Brian, Sandi (Alexa Vega, SPY KIDS), Patrick (Kris Lemche, FINAL DESTINATION 3; MY LITTLE EYE), Trudi (Majandra Delfino, TRAFFIC) and Rick (Drew Tyler Bell, JEEPERS CREEPERS 2) - corner him on break and doubt his sincerity. Scott shows them his gun and insists that, come the end of the school day, he will indeed his own life on camera.

Later, at lunch, his friends tell Scott that they want to be a part of his plan - they want to end their lives on camera too. Scott is not happy about the proposition, but is persuaded by Patrick that they have the right to follow suit with or without his consent. Scott tells the camera that the event has been delayed for one day to give his friends time to prepare - the first step of which is to buy three more camcorders in order to record as much of their final thoughts and actions as possible.

During the afternoon at school Patrick uses his camcorder to look up girls' skirts, while Sandi talks openly to Trudi about her feelings for Scott. Patrick's pranks help him fall foul of his rival Tyrone (Andrew McFarlane, BURNING SANDS), who beats him up. Patrick later addresses his camcorder, advising that before he takes his life he is going to make a list of people he wants to kill - with Tyrone at the top of it.

After school, the group disband to record more footage. Trudi goes home and walks in on her ex-boyfriend and her mother fucking, Scott and Sandi get it on, while Patrick and Rick go cruising - stopping off at a grocery store that results in an action that becomes the catalyst for when plans go wrong ...

STATE'S EVIDENCE is a very well-made film, full of slick editing, attractive lighting and sharp camerawork. The use of handheld camcorder footage mixed with conventional film is handled expertly, and the non-linear approach to the storytelling (shifting back and forth in time) works well, without ever feeling gimmicky.

The acting from the young but fairly experienced (mostly from TV) cast is very good across the board. Lemche, as the increasingly unhinged Patrick, shines the brightest but special mention must also go to Vega who impresses in a role that's more mature than people will know her for.

Mark Brown's script builds on an interesting idea and throws a few surprises in along the way. However, it's also bogged down by far too much philosophising and pointless observations (why do black performers always thank God when they win an award? Why are women's toilets cleaner than the men's? ...). By the end, it reeks of self-importance as one character addresses the screen and asks congress to care more directly for America's youth. Bleargh.

Also, it's got to be said that for a film graced with naturalistic performances and a script that at least tries for gritty realism, there are a few bizarrely implausible scenes along the way: Scott receives a blowjob from a hot girl purely because she thinks his proposed suicide sounds cool; during said fellatio, Scott films his own reaction, rather than the act itself; when the shit hits the fan late on in the film, some students just sit in the library and continue studying ...

Does this all sound too negative? I enjoyed STATE'S EVIDENCE. I started off really enjoying it, and by the end I enjoyed laughing at it - the overwrought sad music when a tragedy occurred, the endless rhetoric of the thoroughly unlikeable Scott.

But, hey, there is one scene that really disturbed me (without giving too much away, it involves Patrick and some private footage he films). So, kudos to director Benjamin Louis (PLEDGE OF INNOCENCE) for getting that in.

Terra's disc is pretty basic. It offers the film uncut, in a decent non-anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. Colours are vivid and while images are sometimes a little soft, there's no grain or artefacting. The English 2.0 audio is a solid affair.

The disc has animated menus and a scene selection menu offering access to the movie via 18 chapters.

No extras.

A well-made film with top-notch performances, let down by a naive tub-thumping script.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Terra
Region 1 - NTSC
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review