Heroin is brutal, of that there's no question. It not only rules the lives of those who use, but usually destroys them. Even scarier, is the fact that so much money can be made off the stuff - adding an extra layer of peril to anyone who happens to get caught up in its web. This is a drug that destroys not only the users, but their friends, acquaintances, and families. It's a tough world out there - and heroin makes it infinitely worse.
In "Dope Sick" we witness an entire family struggling, caught in the web of drugs and dealers. A young woman and her pal are looking to score their next fix, and find out the girl's brother Irving, is supplying the area. As they motivate themselves to track him down, and his stash, we meet the brother himself. He's a reluctant dealer and seemingly wants out - but it's not that easy. His boss orders him to sell the rest of his stash - and Irving's father is no help. His father relies on the cash Irving makes to support the family, and even "cleans" the money made from selling drugs - using his store. It's a vicious cycle that only gets worse when Irving's sister finds his drug stash, steals it, and overdoses. I won't reveal how this short film all ends, but it's definitely not a story of roses and butterflies. This film provides a gritty look into the world of heroin - not for the faint of heart.
"Dope Sick" may be a low-budget indie film, but it's low-budget done well. Other than some slight audio issues from time to time, this is a movie that looks the way it should - gritty and real. There is a lot of hand-held camera moments in this short film, but not enough to induce vomit or anything like that. The way this film is edited also allows for some good pacing - "Dope Sick" flies by - feeling even quicker than its seventeen-minute length.
Another area where this film stands proud is when speaking of performances. There's nothing ridiculously over the top, and nothing underplayed. Enzo Flores direction creates natural feeling performances from the talented cast - and even the cracked out expressions of the characters feel pretty authentic. The only part of the film that had me questioning things, was Irving's reaction when finding out what ultimately happened to his sister - or lack of reaction would be a better way to describe it. Since he himself is not on drugs, one would expect a more heartfelt performance. Then again, not a lot of back story is given - so who knows right?
At the end of the day? "Dope Sick" provides a realistic, very gritty glimpse into the world of drugs for both the users and their families. It doesn't pamper the facts and doesn't shy away from the horrors of hard drugs. Enzo Flores and his talented troupe have offered up a pretty good short film, one I was glad to have watched. Three and a half stars.