Director Bridget Smith makes a component and gritty debut in Better Noise Films Sno Babies. A gripping and emotive tale, Sno Babies depicts the grim realities of addiction and its effects on a middle-class suburban town. Kristen (Katie Kelly) and Hannah (Paola Andino) are best friends–smart, likable, and college-bound– and addicted to heroin.
The pair of seemingly unlikely addicts spiral down a path of destruction, hiding their secret from well-meaning but busy parents behind pink bedrooms and school uniforms. Sno Babies shows how easy it can be to both miss and hide the signs of addiction behind the façade of “good” neighborhoods and pleasantly busy communities.
Sno Babies opens up with our lead character Kristen (Katie Kelly), experimenting with OxyContin. The film transitions into the standard high school movie formula. Teens on a bus think they know everything and a party scene. From there, the film takes a drastic left turn. The director shows realistic scenes of our leads shooting up heroin, followed by a heartbreaking rape scene.
As Sno Babies races toward its inevitable, we continue to watch our character spiral out of control and, in hindsight, throw her life away as she looks for that next high. Addiction movies involving teens are nothing new. I’m a child of the eighties, so I can remember Afterschool Specials and Robert Downey Jr.’s powerful performance in 1987’s Less Than Zero. Director Bridget Smith avoids the eighties clichés, and instead, her film owes more to Larry Clark’s conversational nineties film Kids.
I must point out that Sno Babies doesn’t hold back in its depiction of drug use. There are grotesque scenes of our leads shoving needles into their flesh and destroying their bodies in the process. One particular scene that occurs thirty-six minutes in the film is one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve seen in 2020.
Regarding the acting, first-time actress Katie Kelly is good as our lead Kristen. She brings out the best in an already uncomfortable film. The young actress is one to watch, and I’m sure she will go on to better things. As our second lead Hannah (Paola Andino), does a fine job, the film is clearly meant to showcase Katie Kelly’s talent.
The rest of the supporting cast is kind of just there as place holders. Everyone else in both of the girl’s circles don’t have any sort of arc. I don’t even remember two particular characters whose names seem like they belong in another movie. I still haven’t figured how they tied into the plot.
Screenwriter Michael Walsh and director Bridget Walsh have good intentions with Sno Babies. Still, sadly, the film just doesn’t fully come together. After viewing the movie, I concluded that it seems like the duo attempted to focus more on drug use’s harsh realities. In retrospect, they do succeed, as one particular scene scarred me straight at the age of thirty-nine.
The scene I’m referencing involves the girls having to do a drug test and is so alarming that all teens need to see it. However, where the film fails is creating a strong narrative to co-exist with the drug use scenes. Classic addiction films like Trainspotting and Requiem For A Dream successfully guided both; sadly, Sno Babies melts away any chance of being remembered.
Final Grade C-
Sno Babies is available for viewing via video-on-demand services.