Hello readers once again. Today we have another for you. If you haven't already guessed we are reviewing a film called Born Innocent (I hate when people say smart arse things like that) starring the fantastic Linda Blair amongst some other great talent but notably Joanna Miles, Richard Jaeckal and Kim Hunter. There are some other names in there that you might recognise. The film is a T.V film directed by a guy called Donald Wrye who made a lot of T.V films and documentaries. He also was nominated for 2 Oscars so you are in good hands with this one and I know for a fact that I will be checking out more of his work as I don't think I have seen any of his other work (slap my wrist now) and after seeing this... Wow! Like all of my reviews I don't want to retell you the film and give away most of what happens but this will be slightly more information compared to my video review (embedded down below if you haven't seen it). So I will stop rambling and get on with it.
I first became aware of this fantastic T.V film whilst searching for VHS covers for a Youtube project. I was just blown away with how kick ass it was and knew I would HAVE to seek this film out. I did and boy was I happy. However, I went in to this with the wrong impression. The image at the start of this review was the first real image I saw before watching and made me think I would be seeing some nice W.I.P exploitation sleaze. It only hit me about 10 minutes in when I realised my sick, depraved thoughts about potential Linda Blair hotness in this film was quashed when I worked out Linda was around 15 when she made this. Yes I need help, don't judge. I have to say that I'm happy that the film turned out the way it did.
Essentially, this is a film about Linda Balir's character who is a runaway. She starts off spending the night in the cells with adults until she is taken to court the next day to find out she's being sent to a girl's reformation centre. Upon her arrival she has to go through the procedure of being searched and showered where we realize that she runs away from for good reason. After a rather powerful scene where Chris breaks down we are introduced to some of her fellow inmates. What I will say about this film before I go on is that there is slight elements of the W.I.P genre in this film. We have the innocent character going in, the questionable warden characters and the sharp, potty mouthed inmate characters and of course the themes of lesbianism. This is done however, in a more straight and toned down way than let's say a Roger Corman W.I.P flick. The first real moment in the film is of course another W.I.P trait, the rape scene. All I will say for this is that there is a hard to watch rape scene which involves Chris being held down and the use of a broom handle. This again, is tastefully done and is genuinely shocking and you really do feel for Linda Blair's character.
Aside from the horrible characters we also have the sympathetic teacher played by Joanna Miles who takes a shining towards Chris and starts to forge an almost motherly relationship. This is obvious after Chris tries to escape because of the rape and is thrown in isolation. We have a genuinely touching moment where Chris and the teacher talk and Chris breaks down crying (Linda Blair is fantastic in this film by the way) and crying for her mother. I'd like to see all you manly men hold back the tears for this scene. Chris decides she wants to see her parents so the allow her a 4 day visit. We are introduced to her mother and father played by Richard Jaeckel and Kim Hunter. It all starts off nice and you find yourself happy for Chris. That is until after scenes of her father hitting her mother and hitting Chris. Chris decides to run away again. This time to her older brother. One thing that really got me before she left was the exchange with Chris and her mother where we learn Chris's mother involved the police to save Chris from her father. Again these scenes could have been trashy and exploitative but no, they are done straight and once again in a very powerful way. Once Chris meets her brother it again feels like something good is going to happen but no. Her brother calls the police before they meet and Chris is once again taken back and put into isolation.
From this point in the film another common trait of the W.I.P genre comes into play, the good girl turning bad. Who can blame her? The amount of stuff Chris has gone through so far would be enough for anybody. Chris develops a relationship with a fellow inmate who is pregnant (again, not in a seedy way but a touching way) which helps her keep her cool. That is until there is a situation in the dining hall which results Chris and her new friend being once again, thrown into isolation. Something terrible happens however which I won't reveal but oh boy has Chris had enough. This switch in mentality and attitude is portrayed brilliantly by Linda Blair. One final notable thing that happens in this film is something that I won't even talk about because quite frankly, I didn't see it coming and again, I don't want to spoil the surprise for you but I will say that the payoff is fantastic. Chris has changed from being the victim to a strong willed girl who doesn't take shit from anybody. Trust me, the ending to this film is fantastic!
Overall, this is a brilliant little film. The story is great. The characters are great. Linda Blair is just fantastic in this film and is one of her strongest roles. I definitely want to see more of her performances from her younger days because she was a terrific little actress. The evolution of her character is done brilliantly and again full credit goes to Linda. As I stated earlier this is not a sleaze fest like her later W.I.P films. There is however touches of the genre and in some places it does feel like a good old fashioned exploitation piece. I think you have to be a fan of exploitation cinema to truly appreciate this. It might not have been what I was expecting but I'm glad because this is just a genuinely strong, powerful drama that seriously had me at points. I cannot stress how great this film is and again the best part is Linda Blair. I have missed a few things out but you will appreciate it when you watch it. You can pick this up in a region 1 release from the States but you can however watch the whole thing on Youtube. Just check this one out guys, I could have just said that but yeah HAD to at least talk about it!
The full film:
My Youtube review: