Review by James Lindorf
Life is complicated, and funds are tight for millions of Americans due to the COVID pandemic. Those two facts have a chance to exacerbate the long-running opioid epidemic that was already claiming around 70,000 lives every year. Better Noise Entertainment has committed to fighting back by collaborating with the Global Recovery Initiatives Foundation (GRIF.) “Sno Babies” is just one of the projects from Better Noise’s film development wing that will be sharing profits with GRIF. All artist royalties from the film’s soundtrack are also being donated to GRIF with a matching contribution by Better Noise Music.
“Sno Babies” is the first team-up for frequent collaborators, Director Bridget Smith and Writer Michael Walsh. It is also Smith’s feature-length debut as a director. Smith and Walsh use “Sno Babies” to show addiction’s often-ugly reality and its effect on one suburban middle-class town. Kristen (Katie Kelly) and Hannah (Paola Andino) are best friends, high school seniors, and have diverging paths after graduation. Kristen expects to attend Princeton in the fall, while Hannah has no discernable plan for her future. The thing that bonds the pair is their trust and their addiction to heroin. What started as pressure from a boyfriend to “live a little” spiraled down to back-alley drug purchases and injections, which they were desperate to keep hidden from well-meaning but busy parents.
Kristen’s story can elicit emotions from disbelief to disgust to sorrow to hope while maintaining an air of authenticity. The other main plotline revolves around Matt (Michael Lombardi). He is trying to save the last bit of land his father left to him and his sister from the banks and an aggressive coyote. On top of his financial and familial troubles, Matt is also dealing with fertility issues with his wife, Anna. It is fairly obvious how the two stories will eventually be interwoven, and it takes a frustratingly long time to get there. Matt V. the coyote has less intrigue and excitement than an episode of the Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote. The only thing his story adds to the film is running time.
Every actor turns in a good performance but not as much as Kelly, who is dynamic at the young addict. Most of the film, she is distraught for one reason or another, but her brief happy moments provide depth to her portrayal. The cinematography is adequate and fulfills every need the story and Smith demanded of it. Still, it is not an incredibly beautiful or exciting looking film. The film’s second most lively element is the soundtrack. “Sno Babies” features two tracks from SIXX:A.M. along with two Top 10 hits from Country/Rock star Cory Marks and the chart-topping song “Sober” by Bad Wolves.
The performances on their own aren’t enough to overcome the lackluster cinematography and inconsistent storytelling. However, when combined with the soundtrack and the philanthropic plans for the profits, it is a film I would encourage others to check out if the trailer grabs their attention. You can do worse things with two hours of couch time than helping save a few lives.
Original Language: English
Director: Bridget Smith
Producer: Allen Kovac, Michael Lombardi, Michael Walsh
Writer: Michael Walsh
Release Date (Streaming): September 29th, 2020
Runtime: 1h 49m
Production Co: Better Noise Films, Philly Born Productions, Philly Born Films
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