I consider myself fortunate that I’ve never had to deal with a loved one struggling with addiction, but many families across the U.S. have been destroyed by drug abuse. It’s a grim reality that’s brought to the forefront in “Snow Babies,” a well-intentioned film about the real world problem of teenagers hooked on illegal substances. The movie comes across more like a scared straight “Afterschool Special” than a deeply meaningful drama, but the increasingly macabre scenarios will kick your morbid curiosity into overdrive. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this film, no matter how much I wanted to.
Hannah (Paola Andino) and Kristen (Katie Kelly) are best friends who seem to have it all. They’re popular, smart, and college-bound. The girls are headed towards a bright future, aided by their loving families in their comfortable, middle-class suburban lifestyles. The stresses of school are becoming too much to handle and one night while wanting to “party” with their friends, Kristen pops an Oxycotin pill. The prescription medication becomes a gateway drug, and soon the two young women are shooting up heroin in their bedrooms.
Things get bad for the characters quickly, and director Bridget Smith doesn’t shy away from showing graphic and disturbing scenes in full detail. There’s a long list of upsetting content, from a very realistic rape to a super gross birthing scene. The scenes of drug use are detailed and uncensored, making them feel extremely authentic (which in turns makes the film all the more unsettling). This is not a film for the squeamish, and it is not easy to watch.
Kelly gives a strong performance as Kristen, striking the perfect balance between a person struggling for help who is ready to slip back into an addict’s life in the blink of an eye. You can feel the pain of withdrawal as she tries to get sober, but also understand her desperation in searching for one more high. It’s heartbreaking to watch as the two leads destroy their bodies (by using their feet as an injection site, their toes are nearly rotten), ruin their relationships, and snuff out their hopes and dreams for the future.
The grim realities of drug addiction come across loud at clear (losing friends when you finally get clean, the compulsory near-death overdose scene), and an over-the-top series of events (complete with a religion-heavy message) plays like a corny lecture. But the scenes of actual drug use lend an authentic accuracy to what it must be like to be a desperate addict, and there’s an ending message that you should never be ashamed to seek help if you have a problem.
“Sno Babies” is made for those who’ve been touched personally by this issue, and it sends a positive message that no matter how far gone you think someone may be, they can overcome a dependency with a strong support system.