Sno Babies (MA) - 109 minutes
A harrowing, slice of life tale about two addicted middle-class teen girls, by its very nature it is difficult – although important – to watch.
It starts when a boy that pretty, intelligent (Princeton-bound), 14-year-old Kristen McKusker (Katie Kelly) likes slips her a pill to take.
It is oxycodone and it gives her a high like she has never known.
Next, we cut to 15 months later and by then – urged on by her best friend Hannah (Paola Andino) – she has moved onto heroin.
They both shoot up regularly and Hannah instructs Kristen on how she can do so under her tongue and between her toes.
Heroin is in plentiful supply and is significantly cheaper than oxy.
The guy Kristen likes takes advantage of the situation and before you know it, she is in serious trouble in more ways than one.
The only person she confides in is her long-time babysitter and now tutor.
Her mum, Clare (Shannan Wilson), is too busy moving up the ladder at the real estate agency where she works.
But Kristen isn’t the only one in way over her head.
Hannah, too, is succumbing to her addiction.
At age 16, this pair individually and collectively are in the battle of and for their lives.
Horrified though they are when the truth outs, their family and friends may not be enough to save them.
Sno Babies is a gruelling but compelling watch.
The primary thread, which I have just described, presents as a seemingly never-ending spiral.
It has an authenticity to it, which is chilling.
That is due, in no small part, to a “look at me” performance from Katie Kelly in the lead role.
She transitions her character from happy-go-lucky and carefree, with the world at her feet, to the depths of despair.
Paola Andino makes for a strong sidekick.
I admired Michael Walsh’s writing and Bridget Smith’s direction, this being her directorial feature debut.
Before making the film, the pair spent countless hours speaking with recovering addicts and families who had lost loved ones from the scourge of drug abuse.
Sno Babies makes for a salutary commentary about how the dark side of life can quickly and steadily overwhelm.
Not so satisfying, nor as engaging, was the film’s second thread, which intersects with the primary one.
It concerns a man, Matt (Michael Lombardi), and his sister and their family home, that same man and his wife and infertility, and a predatory coyote.
I found that whole narrative component obtuse and unnecessary, notwithstanding the tenuous link to the main game.
Still, there is more than enough meat in Sno Babies for me to highly commend it, although be prepared for an ordeal.
It is available on digital platforms such as Google Play.
Rated MA, it scores a 7½ out of 10.