After a letter from the mother of a former classmate tips her off to potential foul play, reporter Valerie March (Geneviere Anderson) discovers a thick air of corruption hanging around Florida women's prison Sugar State Penitentiary. Hoping for a big story, she convinces her editor to go along with a ridiculous plan in which Valerie dresses like a hooker and gets arrested in Florida. Naturally, everything works out exactly the way she wants, landing her on the inside without any indication she's sniffing out a story (all within the span of an hour or so; the legal system works swiftly in the world of Sugar Boxx).
Not surprisingly, everyone at Sugar State is corrupt, starting with Warden Beverly Buckner (Linda Dona), drunk on her own power, and continuing all the way down to the sleazy guards, who rape and then murder a prisoner. It's hard to tell: is the scene where they drag her out of bed and rip her clothes off supposed to be shocking, exciting, or even titillating? Writer/director Cody Jarratt doesn't seem to have any idea, heaping a catfight, lesbian sex, and an escape to a higher-class part of the prison where the girls are trotted out as sexual party favors for a bunch of lecherous city officials without any real sense of rhyme or reason. Even the escalating amount of stuff going on is foiled by the budget. Usually, in these kinds of films, prison corruption is believable because there are walls preventing the public from watching, but there's nothing covering up prison guards openly whipping women at Sugar State, which is entirely outdoors and looks like a run-down park (not once in the movie do you see actual, traditional prison bars), while the "resort" area is an average suburban home without any sign of alteration or decoration.
Given that the cover promises the girls will get machetes, one might hope a bit of righteous violence will keep the film from being a total write-off, but the story wanders around without a solid idea of what Valerie wants out of her infiltration of Sugar State. Physical proof? First-hand experience of the atrocities? Hopefully abuse makes the list, because that's what she gets day in and day out: she's shoved in the "hot box" (a sweaty, sauna like isolation tank), whipped by the warden, forced to do manual labor, and assaulted by fellow inmates. At the very end, after a failed escape attempt blows her cover and the justice system fails her completely, Valerie finally gets angry, but it feels like a lame trump card Jarrett has been gleefully hiding up his sleeve instead of a legitimate pay off.
One of the keys to a film like, say, Coffy, is actually its sincerity. As embodied by Pam Grier, the viewer is meant to take Coffy's mission to keep drugs off the street seriously, while the film still finds time for the characters to hide razors in their hair and drag bodies behind cars. None of the people involved with Sugar Boxx seem to feel like they're doing anything other than a lark. It's disingenuous, rendering Sugar Boxx a flimsy attempt to Xerox the drive-in age by people who don't seem to understand it beyond its most surface elements.
The Video and Audio
The disc opens with trailers for Jolene, Night of the Demons, and Blood on the Highway. Three original theatrical trailers for Sugar Boxx are also included.