In Joey Klein’s Castle in the Ground, 19 year old Henry (Alex Wolff) is caring for his dying mother. His new neighbor Ana (Imogen Poots) is often noisy and disruptive. One night he sees a masked man force his way into her apartment. He encounters her one day at the pharmacy as he’s refilling one of his mother’s prescriptions. Ana is trying to get a methadone prescription, but the pharmacist refuses. Henry is reluctant to get involved with her.
After his mother dies, Henry is overwhelmed by grief and guilt. He becomes attracted to Ana’s façade of not caring about anything. He begins to use some of his mother’s remaining opioids. When Ana and her friends become involved with bigger, violent drug dealers. Henry and Ana try to find a way out of danger.
The film is set in 2012 as the opioid crisis was making a shift. Information I received about the film notes that that is the time that OxyContin was taken off the market, and new street drugs, often based in Fentanyl, began leading to more overdose deaths. That information isn’t a part of the film. It would have added some needed context into the dangerous drugs Ana and others were coming in contact with.
As Henry moves through his depression into an ever darker story, we never quite grasp the pain that leads him to the bad decisions he makes along the way. While everything is credible, it is also very superficial. We don’t really get to understand the drug culture. We don’t really get to understand either Henry or Ana. We just see Henry’s downward spiral that we can sense will only lead to even more pain.
Yet there is a part of the film that tries to go a bit deeper. Near the end, in Henry’s apartment, Ana is in need of a fix. She has had to change clothes and put on one of Henry’s mother’s dresses. To prepare the injection, she uses the spoon that Henry used to give his mother her medicine. To tie off her arm, she uses the phylactery that we saw Henry using in his morning prayers. All this shows us that such addictions can take things that hold a certain sacredness and transform them into instruments of sorrow and destruction. That can be seen as a metaphor of what happens to the lives of those who are caught up in such trials.
Castle in the Ground is available on VOD.