Kudos to Eva Wunderman for producing a documentary, Aftermeth, that isn’t hysterical about the issue of substance abuse.
Not that it’s light viewing. Five years after making the film Crystal Fear, Crystal Clear, Wunderman returns to Hope, BC to find that meth-addicted teen Alex Webb has cleaned himself up and moved to Vancouver—while the rest of his family has fallen apart.
Perhaps most shocking is Webb’s mom. A seemingly stable and loving presence in the first film, Michelle is now addicted to crack. Plus she’s facing an attempted murder charge. Meanwhile, Webb’s little sister Amber is showing a few warning signs of her own, and brother Kyler has developed a habit even worse than his brother’s.
The Webbs are intelligent and capable people. The film can’t answer the larger question of their self-destructive predisposition, although the fractured nature of the clan with its multiple (sometimes absent) dads maybe provides a signpost.
Perhaps less obvious are the issues raised about this kind of filmmaking. On the one hand, Alex makes it abundantly clear that seeing himself in Crystal Fear, Crystal Clear provided the motivation he needed to clean up. But it seemed to take an equivalent toll on mom, while a sequence involving Kyler and a hidden camera might be a little questionable.
Nonetheless, it makes for a riveting 53-minutes, not least of all because the Webbs are so recognizable—their tale takes place right in your own backyard. (Of note: Gabor Maté is thanked in the credits.)
Aftermeth screens on Knowledge, on Tuesday (November 6)
You can follow Adrian Mack's contribution to the lobotomizing techno-nightmare known as Twitter at @AdrianMacked.