A grim portrait of the spiral of drug addiction, this movie is emotional, affecting, and well-acted, but it's also tough to push away the feeling that it revels in punishing its main characters. After an opening sequence illustrates how "good girl" Kristen is easily convinced to take an Oxycontin pill by her boyfriend (who promises that "It'll make all your worries and problems disappear"), viewers' next glimpse of her is on the school bus, where Hannah teases her about her Princeton ambitions amidst a crowd of bright-eyed schoolmates. But at the (improbably lively) teen house party that night, Hannah's boyfriend Jeff (Niko Terho) has something for the girls, something that comes in a small glassine envelope and carries with it even more problems than it will temporarily banish. Uh oh, it's Thirteen meets an afterschool special!
After that, there's nowhere for Hannah and Kristen to go but down, and the horrible consequences we've learned to expect from drug addiction films begin to pile up: overdoses, sexual assault, tangles with law enforcement, dope sickness, scoring in dangerous neighborhoods from dangerous criminals. And that's just the start. With her wide, expressive eyes, Kelly feels like a realistically not-so-tough teen buckling under unimaginable strains; viewers will feel for her, particularly in agonizing moments such as a drug-clinic urine test and strip search, which is presented unblinkingly and at length. These scenes certainly do their job of convincing viewers that they want no such part of this business; it also numbingly feels as if both Kristen and Hannah are trapped in some type of moralistic hell house, paying and paying and paying for their mistakes in a movie that almost seems made to show to school assemblies to scare kids straight.