WOMEN IN PRISON MOVIES

JAILBAIT

jailbait

Written and directed by Jared Cohn, this 2014 film is from the infamous direct-to-DVD movie studio The Asylum, and is credited as “Based on the Graphic Novel”, although I can’t find any evidence of the existence of any such graphic novel. This is about a 17 year old girl named Anna who accidentally kills her stepfather in self-defense while he was trying to rape her and is sent to jail.

Now, problem #1 is that Anna is played by Sara Malakul Lane who was almost 30 at the time that this film was made. And while she does look very youthful, 17 is probably pushing it…

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YOWZA!

The fact that she has very nice-looking, but nevertheless clearly augmented, breasts (which are on display a lot during this film, but I’ll get to that later) don’t help her pass as an average 17-year old girl. So I can’t help but wonder why, if they didn’t want to get a younger actress for this film, they didn’t simply make the character an adult and set this in an adult women’s prison, which would make more sense story-wise? It seems like they just really wanted to use the word “Jailbait” in the title. Well, anyway, the film opens with young Anna playing the Cello in her room, when her suitably sleazy-looking and much older stepfather (Robert Sisko) comes in and pushes her down on the bed and starts taking her clothes off. At first Anna just passively lays there, as if this isn’t the first time this is happened and she intends to just go along with it, but then she kicks at him and knocks him towards a nearby window where he cuts his neck and bleeds to death. She’s arrested and it flash-forwards to her trial where her own mother (Christabel Rivero) testifies against her, saying that her husband never touched Anna. So Anna is found guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter and is sentenced by the Judge to “4-9 years in a maximum security juvenile detention facility.”

Now, I’m no lawyer or legal expert, but how does a 17 year old get sent to a juvenile detention facility for up to 9 years? At full sentence she’d be 26, even the minimum she’d be 21. In just one year at 18 she’ll be an adult. You can’t have adult in with juveniles. So either she’d be tried as an adult, and then sent to an adult prison, or tried as a juvenile and set free when she turns 18. That’s the other reason why it would have made more sense to just make this character older in the first place. Even though the place she’s sent is supposed to be for juveniles and there is a brief scene later of some of the girls in a classroom, the place is built and run like an adult prison. All the other inmates are similarly adult-looking.

After the obligatory strip-search, Anna is taken to her cell, and meets her cellmate, a real quiet girl named Genie (Jennifer Robyn Jacobs). Soon it’s lights out, and we see Genie masturbating in her bed while looking at Anna. Anna wants to just be left alone but soon finds herself running afoul of both the leader of a Black gang, and a girl named Kody (Erin O’Brien), who runs a rival gang made up of White and Latina prisoners. The Black girl just wants to kick Anna’s ass for no reason. Kody wants Anna to join her gang for protection and when Anna refuses, they kick her ass, until she finally agrees. This doesn’t stop the violence though, as Anna gets in several more fights during the course of the film, which results in her being placed in solitary. In addition to the various gangs, Anna also catches the eye of Frank, the warden, who makes several sexual advances towards her which she initially rejects, until she feels she has no choice. Then she gets hooked on drugs, first crack and then heroine (which she inexplicably has cash money on her to pay the other heroine addicts, who are all shooting up out in the open) and the goes through a long and harrowing withdrawal, ending in a suicide attempt which lands her in the psyche ward for a time. Eventually a year and a half has passed and Anna is up for her first parole hearing. Frank assures her that he will give a good recommendation to the parole board for her, in exchange for the willing sexual favors that she has provided him. But can she trust him? And what other options does she have if Frank goes back on his word? NO SPOILERS, you’ll have to watch the film to see how it all turns out…

This film is also listed as “In the vein of Orange Is The New Black”, a show which I have heard a lot about but have never watched, so I can’t judge of that comparison is accurate. But I can say this film does carry most of the standard tropes of classic Women In Prison films. There’s lots of female nudity, specifically the star Sara Malakul Lane, who has no compunctions about showing off her amble assets. In addition to the opening strip search, there are several scenes of her in the shower (including one scene where she’s brutally beaten by the Black girls), and scenes where she’s put in solitary where she is forced to strip (often in front of male guards, of course), three lesbian sex scenes where she and her partners get nude, and there are her scenes with the warden, although she only gets topless in one of them. Plus there’s a couple of scenes of her being examined by the prison nurse, in which Anna also gets topless.

Despite the various story flaws, I still found this film enjoyable. And that is due largely in part to Sara Malakul Lane. No, not just because of her nudity (although this IS a plus), but her acting performance is pretty stellar. She really does the best possible job with the material that she is given. Her emotional range is incredible, as her character is able to show vulnerability, stoicism, fear, loneliness, rage, and hate at different times throughout this film. I was particularly impressed with her scenes as she feel deeper into drug addiction and then the eventual withdrawal. Erin O’Brien also stands out in her performance as Kody, at first appearing to be the stereotypical tough girl, but later revealed to have a bit of a heart of gold. But one of the real standouts of this film is Steve Hanks, who plays Frank, the warden. I’m trying to think of the best way to describe His character…imagine if Mr. Rogers was an evil rapist. That’s Frank. He perpetually has this bright smile on his face, and speaks in A quiet friendly tone, which never changes no matter what he’s doing it, whether it’s forcing Anna to give him a blowjob or ordering that someone (NO SPOILERS) be stabbed to death. He’s one of the best movie villains I’ve seen in a long time.

Altogether this is enough for me to recommend Jailbait with a Chacebook rating of 4 STARS

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