Spencer T. Folmar
Spencer T. Folmar
Unless you've been living under a rock on some secluded island, you already know of the opioid crisis that's been making headlines lately. By no means a new issue, its been gaining ground in the media for good reason - it really is a crisis, duh. It's also one that no matter what we do, we can't seem to get a leg up. The problem calls for drastic measures, yet drastic measures simply can't be enforced without breaking the law itself. On top of that, you also have ethical concerns to tackle. Who is more responsible? The dealers or the addicts that fuel them? Is it morally viable to take the law into your own hands? If an angry mob takes out a drug dealer, should they be hailed as heroes - or should they be put in jail for performing what many may consider a community service? Delving a little deeper, murder is murder, isn't it? And what of the dealer? If they are starving, or addicts themselves, one could argue they're simply trying to survive, or fuelling their own addiction. As one of the main characters in this film likes to say, what about the mother? What about the dealer's mother? It's all some very tricky content. Aside from helping spread the word on the huge opioid crisis, "Shooting Heroin" also dances around another question - can two wrongs make things right? That's for you, as a viewer, and as a person to decide. So reader, in essence, I've already written out what is the backbone of this particular film - now it's time to zero in a little more.
Adam, a military vet, returns home just in time to bury his drug-addicted sister. It's more than a little implied that she's been an addict for a very long time - her death from an overdose is tragic, but not surprising. Grief-stricken and angry, Adam begins to obsess over the current state of things in his hometown. It's around this point that lifelong friend and local sheriff Jerry, promises and assembles a special task force. The sole purpose is tackling the drug issue by any legal means necessary. Banding together with Hazel, a grief-stricken woman who has lost her child to drugs and Edward - the group goes about cleaning up their town. It all starts well enough until tensions build, then bubble over and the task force is disbanded for fear of stepping over the line in a big way. This doesn't help, and after a tragic loss, all hell breaks loose. Vigilante justice seems the only way to get things done - the understaffed police department simply can't cope with the legalities of making real progress. Writer, director, Spencer T. Folmar has crafted a film that really asks some hard questions, but in all honesty, simply excels at highlighting a huge real-life problem. The crisis itself, and the laws inability to deal. All dramatically showcased for your viewing pleasure.
The presentation and production of "Shooting Heroin" is pretty impressive for a micro-budget venture. For the majority of the time, most viewers will not even notice it's indie roots. That's not saying there's absolutely no hallmarks, but very few. With that written, there's no real need for me to go any further into the production aspects - except to again write nice job. Where this film does shine is with the leading cast members, and to a large extent, the supporting cast. Alan Powell, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and Garry Pastore all do excellent jobs portraying their respective characters - managing to use each other's performances to extend the dramatic reach of their own. It's all very real, heartfelt, and gritty, adding a sense that this film could actually be a reality show of sorts. But then we have Sherilyn Fenn and her character Hazel, the wonderfully mismatched actress if ever there were one. I mean that in the best of ways because her character Hazel, really does look awkward around her counterparts - and I think that was the point. Because she looks slightly out of place, it allows her character to offer a slight dose of comedy, something that helps keep this serious drama grounded - a very important element to have when the subject matter is as grim as this. Without question, an excellent casting choice.
Boasting a very real plot, some great performances, and a slick edit allowing this film to breeze through its length, there's not a lot to complain about or dislike about this movie. There are some hard questions asked and some even harder ones answered. "Shooting Heroin" lets its viewers in on how easy it is to get a lot of this crap, it touches on overprescribing, the flaws in the system, and the results felt by community after community. Even the shock reveal at the end that floors Adam - is a message in itself. Folmar's film may swing a little far in one direction every now and then, but that doesn't change one simple truth. This is a good film. One that deserves as many eyes on it as it can get. Four stars.