Jailbait (2013, USA)

Jailbait - Sara Malakul Lane as Anna Nix

There is not much that can be said for this other than that it is a singularly distasteful, exploitative film.

17-year-old Anna Nix (played by the almost-30-year-old Sara Malakul Lane) is studious… and a gifted cellist, of all things. She kicks her drunken stepfather away as he is attempting to rape her for the umpteenth time, and accidentally kills him in the process. Her mother testifies at trial that he would never have abused his step-daughter, and Anna gets 4 to 9 years for involuntary manslaughter, to be served at the maximum-security Rendleton Youth Correctional Facility.

In prison she is subjected to as many hackneyed tribulations as you can cram into a desperately unimaginative script. She wants to be left alone, but is pressured by the leader of the Low Riders gang, Kody (Erin O’Brien), to do its dirty work in return for its protection. Evenhandedly, she clashes also with the leader of the African American gang. She is bashed for ‘disrespecting’ Kody and is encouraged by a nurse to speak to Warden Frank Baragon (Steve Hanks) about her treatment, but he demands sexual favours from her in return for his protection.

But what is dressed up as pretty standard ‘misery porn’ is more plain sleaze, with the out-of-her-depth schoolgirl involved in relentless sexual exploits (some improbably consensual, some non-consensual) with her cellmate Genie (Jennifer Jacobs), with Kody and with the Warden, interspersed with regular periods in the punishment cells where she is (for no apparent correctional reason) allowed no clothes. When she is not in a state of undress she attempts to blot out the pain by first smoking drugs and then injecting them.

She is unable to arrest her downward spiral. But then, after her attempts to withdraw from the drugs and separate herself from the prison politics have both proved patently unsuccessful, she seizes upon an opportunity to expose the Warden’s corruption in order to win an early parole.

Some scenes are laughable: the riot squad’s theatrical attendance whenever there is a fight between the women; Anna’s cello playing, where her bowing and fingering bear little or no resemblance to the music dubbed over the top; a letter she receives from the Parole Commission where you are supposed to read the first paragraph, but not the subsequent ones which start, ‘Abruptly, the elevator jarred to a halt. An ominous clunking was audible… “What the hell’s going on?” ‘; a shortage of underwear; and an attention to intimate grooming that you might not have thought possible in a prison environment.

But one of the film’s central propositions – that a victim of the most horrible sexual assaults might still be up for some hot erotic action with virtual strangers – is not so laughable, and the lack of anything original to say makes it uniformly tedious.

Jailbait is neither the first nor the nastiest exploitative WIP film and, sadly, will not be the last. But such films ought not be encouraged.

Jailbait #2 - Sara Malakul Lane as Anna Nix and Erin O'Brien as Kody Jailbait #3 - Steve Hanks as Warden Frank Baragon

Posted on June 8th, 2014 at 9:41 pm. Updated on June 8th, 2014 at 9:43 pm.

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