Keep an eye on Katie Kelly. The young actress has an X factor that suggests an ability to shoot to the top of the A-list in no time. You can just tell, sometimes. Kelly showcases that star quality, as well as some serious acting chops, in the new drama Sno Babies, a film that asks a lot of her. It’s a challenging role, one she’s able to handle with ease, delivering work that elevates the flick in a big way. The final product overall is a bit hit or miss, in terms of its effectiveness, but Kelly never hits a false note. If you choose to see this tale of drug addiction, you’ll be seeing it for her, and you likely won’t regret it.
The movie is an addiction drama, focusing on the hidden epidemic of opioid addiction in small town, suburban America. It depicts not only what the reality of drug addiction is for the user, but the toll that its effects on their families can be. The protagonists are Kristen (Kelly) and Hannah (Paola Andino), who appear like any other teenagers. Their likable, spunky, and headed to college soon. They’re also heroin addicts, able to hide their addiction behind the façade of their middle class upbringing in a small United States town. Suburbia hides their drug use for a time, but when they’re caught, they have very different experiences, showing how this crisis affects everyone differently. It ultimately leads to a place where tragedy may be on the horizon, but it’s one that’s inevitable for far too many people in this country already. Bridget Smith directs (and edits) a screenplay by Michael Walsh, with cinematography from Joseph Hennigan, as well as a score composed by Megan Cavallari. Supporting players include Ken Arnold, Molly Logan Chase, Abbey Hafer, Michael Lombardi, Meryl Jones Williams, Shannan Wilson, and more.
Katie Kelly is startlingly good here, putting you in the shoes of a teenaged girl who seems to have it all. Before you see her taking drugs, you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s a goody goody. That’s part of the effectiveness of her performance, showcasing both sides of this character. Kristen hides her heroin use for as long as she can, but when she’s caught and has to find more extreme methods to getting high and concealing her usage, the work goes to another level. Kelly is able to make you feel for this girl, but more importantly, never tries to preach to you about the teen’s issues.
Sno Babies has its share of flaws, but Kelly is good enough to get you over the hump, provided you can take the dark turns that the plot leans into. That being said, writer Michael Walsh and director Bridget Smith go overboard on the misery in the third act, while the entire subplot involving Michael Lombardi (admittedly a solid actor) is completely unnecessary. Then, there’s the preachiness that does come in at the end. It’s emotional, sure, but it’s also manipulative in a way nothing else in the flick has been, so it leaves a viewer conflicted, as opposed to moved.
Opening tomorrow, Sno Babies is worth seeing for Katie Kelly and her work. Without her, that wouldn’t be the case for the film. With her, it’s a mild recommendation, with the presumption that in a few years, Kelly will be in higher profile work more suited to her talents. This is a decent flick, elevated by her performance. Soon, it’ll be a whole other ballgame for her, and rightly so…
Be sure to check out Sno Babies, available to watch tomorrow!
(Photos courtesy of Better Noise Films)