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Published on April 28th, 2013


Youth’s Armageddon: A Film Review of Behind The Orange Curtan

Behind The Orange Curtain, a Zac Titus and Natalie Costa film, retells and relates story upon story of drug addiction and abuse by America’s youth in the drug infested yet extremely affluent community of Orange County in Southern California.  Perhaps, the very pretty young woman who was arrested by the police carrying contraband as well as thirteen thousand dollars in counterfeit money for drug purchases, summed it up best in terms of Orange County’s wealth when she said,  “I thought that my family was ‘lower-middle class’ because we only had a three car garage and only two of the cars were Mercedes.”

Although many of the young people from Orange County, discussed with-in this 85 minute documentary, are deceased from a drug overdose, their parents-with a striking similar sadness in their eyes born of the pain they feel from losing their children  to drugs- also manifests a commonality of experience as they remember recognizing the signs of drug addiction and death (in some instances it was impending death which was diverted)in their children.  Those people who lost the most, meaning that their loved-one died, are the saddest and the most puzzled and troubled trying to grasp “the hand” in life which they and their family were dealt.

 Their despair, therefore, as they  seek to make sense of the tragedy of their loved-one’s loss of life is the crux of this film.  As I said before, not all of the people interviewed by director Brent Huff lost loved-ones; but those with family members who lived through “Pharmegeddon” are facing their child’s or siblings’ debilitation from seizures, paralyses, and brain damage caused by the drugs they took.  

The greater irony in all of this is the fact that the youth in this documentary began their journey through the looking glass by taking prescription drugs which they thought were safe to take because they were dispensed by a medical doctor.  Some of the drugs dispensed frequently are:  Seroquel,  Xanax, Vicodin, Opana, Morphine, Ecstasy, Oxycontin,  Ativan, Adderall, and Valium.  

An even more horrible irony ensues in this documentary  in that looking for a higher-high, many of those who survived the prescription drugs, turned to heroin.  That same woman who thought that she was lower-middle class admitted going through rehab sixteen times before she was able to stop using drugs.

Not only does this expose reveal the excessive drug use and abuse by young people in Orange County, many of whom began taking drugs at the age of twelve, but the expose also coughs up at least three of the physicians who quite callously and coldly sold large quantities of prescription drugs to whomever had the money to pay for the commodity.  The three Doctor’s names are: Dr. Lisa Tseng, Dr. Stanley Dryer, and Dr. Paul Corona.  

Orange County is a beautiful place.  I admired the beautiful photography by Derek Bauer of the sea, the sunset, and the surrounding landscape.  I admired, as well,  the script and the direction by Brent Huff and Zac Titus and the editing by Lee Iovano  which fits like a hand-in-a glove with the direction and the overall message of the film.  As both poignant and as troubling as the film is without having the uplift of so many other films, on a scale of from one to ten I give Behind The Orange Curtain a rating of nine.

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About the Author:

Cleo Brown is the movie reviewer for She lives in Manhattan and has a Master’s Degree in Contemporary African-American History from The University of California at Davis and has done work on a Ph.D. in education at The University of San Francisco. She has published several poetry books and is featured in Who’s Who in Poetry.

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