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State of Consciousness movie review (2024)

Stephen pleads insanity, using an old psychiatric misdiagnosis to make his case. Because at one point, a doctor said (off-camera) that Stephen showed “signs of bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.” Stephen now says that he actually had “minor [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder].” In any case, Stephen’s soon imprisoned in a psychiatric facility, where he’s restrained (by only two men) and then injected with a big syringe. He spends the rest of the movie running away and/or struggling to regain control of reality as he knows it.

It’s somewhat difficult to judge “State of Consciousness” without considering both Hirsch’s self-pitying role and twitchy performance. He’s become a prolific star of low-budget Video-On-Demand genre movies, like the dismal 2021 horror thriller “Son” and the sub-“Pulp Fiction” art world crime caper “American Night” (also 2021).

In real life, Hirsch also pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault in 2015 and spent 15 days in jail. You might be able to watch “State of Consciousness” without thinking about what Stephen’s behavior says about Hirsch. You’ll still be left with a drab and unpleasant psychodrama where the main character tumbles from one frame-up to the next, and always in a way that confirms that yes, Virginia, the world really is out to specifically get Stephen and destroy his peace of mind.

That’s not a bad premise for a B-movie, nor is Hirsch’s broad performance necessarily inappropriate. I’m still amazed at how lifeless Stephen’s trials often are. A revealing and memorably disturbing moment comes about partway through the movie, when a major character is crushed to death by a motel sign that randomly smashes through the ceiling. The sparking letters on the sign say, “The Last Stop Motel,” which is sort of a joke.

Stephen is so laughably passive that he has to shoot another side character in the head just to prove that he’s not a total pushover. That’s not a spoiler though since the makers of “State of Consciousness” also frequently break up Stephen’s more violent confrontations with blackouts and other sudden breaks from the movie’s linear reality. The big payoff, where we find out why Stephen’s being so thoroughly flogged, is hilariously underwhelming.

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