14 June, 2011

Inside a "Crack House"

Crack House is a documentary that does not really shock you. What it does is give you an insight into the workings of a drug house and simultaneously focuses on the impact of drugs on the families of those who use/sell them.

Anthony Wonke's documentary revolves around an undercover operation by ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Drugs, Firearms) that led to the incarceration of a drug gang in Rockford, Illinois. The ATF with the help of an informer was able to install video cameras inside a "crack house" which led to over 1000 hours of recordings that gave a fascinating view of what really goes on behind their closed and well protected doors. The guns, the drugs, the violence, and the boasts of crimes committed by the drug dealers was part of everyday life as were the visits by people from all demographics to buy drugs.

What was interesting for me were the interviews with the law and enforcement officers who gave a step-by-step description of the entire operation. What was even more interesting were the interviews with the families left behind and the drug dealers (by phone) who are now in prison for anywhere from 15 to 45 years. Be it grandmothers, mothers (who were prior drug users in a couple of cases), sisters, or specially children; it is really sad watching how their lives have been affected by just one member of the family going to prison. Surprisingly, although the families acknowledge that mistakes were made, they all feel that the punishment was much severe than deserved.

Crack House makes for an interesting watch because it is an exposé into the lives of people (drug dealers) most of us will not come across in our lives, but for me it was the interviews with the family members that made the entire documentary more emotional and worth a watch.

Note: Personally I find it hard to rate documentaries. I always find that they have such a strong message for someone or the other that it's almost unfair to give them a rating. But, just keeping in mind the interest factor and not counting in the emotional, I would give it 4/5 star rating.


  1. Completely agree with the difficulty of rating documentaries. If there are more documentaries about the same subject you can compare them to see which is the better one. You can also look at things like structure and if you know nothing about the subject if it informs you. But as with all documentaries there are some which are very poorly made.

    This one sounds very interesting, will try to check it out!

  2. @Nostra - Thank you for the comment. I agree with you, but my feeling is that sometimes a documentary can be badly directed but the issues are so strong you can't help like it. Thanks

  3. Yeah...but is that NOT violation of privacy??? All to catch some BLACK people doing shit that they would never catch them on if it weren't for tem violating their constitutional rights!!!

  4. Hi, thanks for the comment. With regards to violation of privacy, the house was "bugged" after taking permission/working together with the lady who rented the house (to be used by the gang). Technically all the police needed was her permission to bug it, which they had.

    Racism is a very touchy topic. I'm Indian and time and again I have faced racism especially when I travel. I'm not in a position to comment on the dynamics of the society where all this happened since I have never been there, and thus I will not.

    What I will say is that if the constitutional law is broken for the great good (catching a murderer or drug dealer) then yes it comes under a grey area and that debate will have strong points on both sides.

  5. F.....every comment up thats my family in jail

  6. Thanks for the comment. But rather than than writing what you wrote, how about writing your side of the story in defence?