This is a film that should come with a trigger warning for those who have firsthand knowledge of the opioid epidemic. For those people, Sno Babies rehashes the tragic lessons you’ve already learned and may reopen some scars that are still healing. That’s how intense this tale becomes. Bridgit Smith directs the narrative written by Michael Walsh about two popular, pretty girls who are the toast of the suburbs. Yet, they are also over their heads in a heroin addiction that is already out of control when the film begins. The entire experience is sometimes so raw it’s surreal, and it hits too close to home if you are familiar with the subject matter.
Kristin and Hannah, played by Katie Kelly and Paolo Andino, are the girls that everyone envies, including some of the adults. They have parents willing to give them anything and they live in a nice, “safe” suburban community. They should be thriving, and at first, it seems like they are.
However, both girls have a raging heroin addiction. It’s so bad that Kristin’s feet have become infected from shooting up there. Hannah offers a “big girl” way to shoot up that doesn’t even look comfortable…or good for her PH balance if you know what I mean. We also get knowledge of a rape that Kristin suffers, which seems to be driving her addiction. She later finds out that she is pregnant.
In 2018, there were over 10 million opioid abusers over the age of 12. Like the girls, the millions of teens addicted smoothly fly under the radar of very busy parents. in Sno Babies, they leave a ton of red flags that are ignored. Katie’s bloody socks and lethargic manner. There’s also Hannah’s combativeness and pale skin for a Latina. There are other flags that I cannot reveal because they are plot points.
What Sno Babies does very well is lay the groundwork for a huge lesson later, when the tragedies start piling one on top of the other. With addiction, life comes at you very fast, too fast for teenagers to handle on their own. And, much too fast for parents (especially Kristin’s played by (Shannon Wilson and Ken Arnold)who are under the impression that their kids would never do drugs.
Another subtle but powerful reality that Sno Babies touches on is that Kristin and Hannah are not exceptions by a long shot. They are the poster children for the opioid epidemic. These are the kids with the means and the opportunity to feed a heroin addiction until it is too late to hide it. They are also children living in communities where parents are more concerned about appearance, so they hide the stories rather than share them. As the surviving girl says at the end, the only way to combat this thing is to face it, to talk about it. The film operates as a vehicle for doing just that.
A Few Issues
One of the things that bothered me were the side stories that seemed to muddy up the importance of the narrative. There is Matt (Michael Lombardi) who is having problems with the inherited business and with his wife’s infertility. These storylines never feed into the ending the way they naturally should. Instead, they veer off in favor of a somewhat wholesome ending. There is no need. The narrative is real. Let it end the way it needs to (and I will say no more as I’ve already spoiled enough of this film).
Some of the scenes do get a little bit cliché with the visual addiction metaphors. An example is Kristin’s attempt to detox that where she looks like she pukes a few times and whines the rest of the time. This is not close to a heroin home detox, which is not recommended without consulting a doctor first. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, it can lead to severe health problems and unnecessary suffering. However, these moments pale in the face of pregnant Katie stumbling through the woods high and in labor, while her mom’s boss hunts a menacing coyote not too far away. The tension is so stiff it practically snaps as the reality of the situation sets in.
Sno Babies from Better Noise Films is out on VOD and streaming services this week. It should be required viewing in suburban schools and PTA meetings.
Rating 3 of 5
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