Meth Storm (2017)

  • 6.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Brent Renaud, Craig Renaud, Director:
  • Producer:
10 / 10

A Powerful Film about the Power of Addiction and the Futility of the Drug War

METH STORM was very well-received in its world premiere at Austin'S SXSW Film Festival. This is a powerful film about what addiction to this awful drug can do a family and a community - in this case, Faulkner County, Arkansas. The film makers spent a long time in the community and got to know some of the individuals well which allowed them to get remarkable and up close footage including film of people shooting up on meth. (This takes up well-beyond the romanticized and action-packed version of Meth seen on Breaking Bad.) While much of the blame for their bad choices can be placed on the individuals, it can also be blamed on the failures of government to provide these families jobs, educational opportunity, health care, and any sort of accessible drug treatment. The society has failed these families whose only real opportunity is the black market drug trade. The only governmental response is in law enforcement, but that seems to be utter and complete failure as well. The close-up view of the crisis is overwhelming. The mother tries to get her kids to quit drugs while failing to confront her own long-term addiction. The squalid conditions in which they live are heart-breaking. The ruined lives and the young kids that seem to have little more to look forward to are simply devastating to observe. The DEA agent attempts to arrest small-time dealers in hopes of breaking the drug ring and catching the Mexican source without seeming to realize that they are chasing shadows. They don't seem to realize that they can never win by prosecuting the demand side of the equation. This powerful film certainly raises more questions that it answers (much like the Michael Douglas film Traffic a generation ago). It has been picked up by HBO Films which should provide it with a well-deserved wider audience.

7 / 10

Brutally honest documentary that is at times hard to watch

"Meth Storm" (2017 release; 95 min.) is a documentary about the devastating effects of cheap and potent meth coming in from Mexico to overwhelm rural America. As the movie opens, we are reminded that meth production in the US has all but shut down, and that Mexican cartels were all too happy to fill in the gap. We then are in the midst of a high-speed car chase, as Arkansas DEA agents are on the heels of a drug dealer. Then we get to know a family in Van Buren County, AR, led by Veronica, now 43 and a meth addict. We witness her shooting up and it's not long before we get to know her two sons who are also addicts. Finally, we are introduced to Johnny, a local DEA guy who is part of Operation ICE Storm, a large effort to combat drug dealers. At this point we're 10 min, into the documentary.

Couple of comments: this is the latest from documentarians Brent and Craig Renaud, who have tackled similar issues before ("Dope Sick Love", "Little Rock High: 50 Years Later"). The documentary picks up in 2014, when Operation ICE Storm develops, and covers the next 18-24 months. What we witness is hard to grasp and at times even hard to watch. Entire communities (mostly consisting of what one might call "white trash") seem engulfed in the meth storm. At one point Veronica's 26 yr. old son Teddy is released from yet another drug related stint in jail. They hug, drive home and immediately proceed to shooting up together, YES, right after his release! It blows the mind, and it made me cringe on more than one occasion. When Johnny (the DEA guy) reviews the list of people who are arrested at one point during Operation ICE Storm, he knows most of them personally, as he laments that he cannot stop the meth wave. At one point we get to know Teddy's 2 young daughters, I'm guessing 6 or 7 years old, and you can't help but feel very sorry for them. I just shook my head...

"Meth Storm" premiered recently as part of HBO's documentary series, and I caught it the other day at HBO on Demand. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but as this played out, I couldn't help but feel strangely removed from all this. I mean, is this really part of America? I don't pretend to know how to solve this issue (or, say, the opioid crisis that is so widespread), and I fear it will only gets worse before it gets better. Meanwhile, "Meth Storm" is a brutally honest documentary that is at times hard to watch but a eye-opener on so many levels.

9 / 10

"I'm not trying to be rude, nanny, but tell Dad he needs to make better choices"

"I'm not trying to be rude, nanny, but tell Dad he needs to make better choices"

"Meth Storm" is a disarmingly sweet documentary about a meth using family in Arkansas. You wouldn't think a documentary of this topic could be sweet, but it is. The family this documentary centers around is a mother, a step father and her three sons (?) and two daughters. The mother and her son's are meth addicts who have each served repeated times in jail. Most are without jobs, but somehow still find drugs and love to share with each other. Drugs and love is what passes between these family members, and it is both heartbreaking and redeeming to see. Heartbreaking to see the mother seem to teach addiction, but also redeeming for her to try to maintain a support system when that return to jail takes place. Her family is both of the more dysfunctional and compassionate one could hope to find. It's easy to judge her incapabilities but the documentary teaches you to try to be more respectful.

The people busting these families are also surprisingly respectful which seems rare to see. One phrase I remember is a police man (and mayor of a small town) hoping to be there "to help, not to hurt." I liked what he had to say to the people he busted.

"Meth Storm" is not exploitive of this meth addicted family, although it does show many kinds of nitty gritty which speaks of a rare kind of trust between filmmaker and subject more than anything. For this quality I commend this documentary, although for most people it will be entirely not what they expect. If you want to spend an hour of your life judging some meth addicted "white trash" people, unfortunately "Meth Storm" is not for you. It's not until the end of the film that the mother's rape becomes even hinted at. There's no glorification of the unfortunate here. This is a wise and hopeful documentary with a lot of humanity.

Criticisms because the title doesn't necessarily reflect what the documentary is really about. This is more of a portrait of a family and one police officer rather than a documentary about meth on any kind of grand scale. There is not really any violence either as might be expected from the nature of the word "storm." "Meth Storm" is decidedly mellow, and I liked the change of pace.

6 / 10

Not the best documentary, HOWEVER...

This is not a well- produced documentary but is an updated version of the docs 10 yrs ago when meth was being home-cooked in backyard meth labs, extremely dangerous in so many ways. Of course the cartels have come up w a more refined, more potent and cheaper product - simple supply and demand. However why the one reviewer below sits on his/her high horse and simply judges the people (yes, they are PEOPLE, HUMAN BEINGS) caught in the devastating spiral of drug addiction with all its destructive ripple effects, seeing them a losers who "got what they deserved" is such a pitiful commentary on someone who knows nothing about the powerful grip of addiction. Why waste time to "review" when all that person does is criticize these people. It shows complete ignorance about addiction. Get off your high horse and have some compassion- or shut the hell up.

7 / 10

Shockingly real

As a former paramedic, unfortunately this is exactly how meth affects not just the user, but their families and the community,