SXSW Film Review: Shooting Heroin is a noble idea marred by melodramatics

*The AU Review will continue with its planned SXSW 2020 coverage.  We have been in contact with the respective representatives for available films in order to give them the coverage they intended.

A noble idea marred by melodramatics that often take away the importance of the film’s message, Shooting Heroin can’t help but feel like an after-school-special due to its vigilante temperament that oft delays the seriousness of the narrative.

The devastating effects of heroin/opioid addiction is one that evidently struck writer/director Spencer T. Folmar, and it’s clear that he’s deeply involved in wanting to rid middle America of an epidemic that is needlessly claiming the lives of the young at an expansive rate; it’s reported on average that 115 Americans die every day from opioid use.

The story to tell regarding drug abuse and how to influence young Americans away from it is a far simpler excursion than what Folmar opts for though.  Perhaps in his mission to want to combat the drug, he’s taken  on a literal stance where his characters adopt a vigilante approach, banning together to drive the drug pushers out of Shooting Heroin‘s small-town setting.

It’s a temperament that gives way for Alan Powell‘s determined Adam to rise up and lead his town in a rage-fuelled rant to take out the dealers; his sister passing away from an overdose proving the ultimate trigger.  Again, it’s a noble and understandable gesture, but the manner in which Adam inspires the townsfolk to join him in a hunt for the dealers around town sadly undoes any of the emotional investment a story like this should have.

The film’s lane that feels more organic to its cause revolves around the kindly Hazel (Sherilyn Fenn), a concerned mother who travels from school to school in a bid to educate and warn children about the effects of drug use; the fact that her own two sons died of an overdose within 12 hours of each other her main source of inspiration.  Fenn brings a calming yet stern presence, and it’s her plight that feels more in tune with the message the film wants to convey.

Shooting Heroin should have been a more emotionally devastating and investing feature at the end of the day.  There’s no doubt that the core of the film is highlighting an issue that affects many, and its good intentions can’t be taken away, but an unnecessary action/revenge temperament undoes the dramatics the story deserves.


Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.