Goodnight, Sugar Babe: The Killing of Vera Jo Reigle (2013)

Goodnight, Sugar Babe: The Killing of Vera Jo Reigle (2013)

Released: 2013
Genre: Animation, Crime, Documentary, Genre
Director: J. David Miles
Starring: Desta Bixler, Danny Bixler, Lisa Baer, ,
Run time: 87 min
IMDb: 6.2/10
Country: USA
Views: 98692


The discovery of the mutilated body of a mentally challenged young mother begins a journey into madness that is so unbelievable the mastermind behind the crime ultimately got away with murder. Revealing for the first time how and why it happened filmmaker J. David Miles ventures into the insane mind of a small town crime family’s matriarch and uncovers a conspiracy that continues to elude law enforcement to this very day. By going straight to the murderers themselves for interviews it is a true crime investigation like you have never seen, unveiling an alternate motive to what was presented in the courtroom that is as bizarre as it is heartbreaking.
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User Reviews: True crime documentaries are fascinating to me, but there’s a line that can be crossed when the documentary feels incredibly exploitative and clearly produced for shock value.

Centering on a murder within a family plagued by incest and violence, rather than focusing more on the victim and the hard facts of the crime, the documentary instead chooses to focus on "Sugar Babe" Cheri Brooks and the circumstances revolving around her and her sadistic pleasures. While these circumstances are related to the case at hand, the film chooses to highlight these in a reveling way and the shocking nature of it all as ‘gross-out’ entertainment; to put the spotlight on just how messed up of a family the victim belonged to.

While one can glean much sympathy for the victim of the crime regardless of the skill behind the filmmaking, the documentary’s amateurish way of presenting the narrative felt, for lack of a better word, wrong, and its approach was frankly exploitative of mentally, socially and financially troubled individuals, many of which hadn’t much relation to the events. A lack of professional commentary from other, more objective observers made it feel as though it was meant to be seen like some sort of twisted clown show.

In essence, knowing the power documentary filmmaking can have in real cases such as these, and potentially change unfavorable outcomes, the filmmakers are doing a disservice to the case by presenting such an amateur production that doesn’t do the locals or commentators any favors by how they’re presented. A lack of structure makes the case very hard to piece together and follow, and by sensationalizing the grosser details of the case, makes it come across as disingenuous and made for the wrong reasons.


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Public on March 2, 2021

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