Good intentions trump filmmaking skills in far too many social-issue documentaries, and Charlie Minn’s 8 Murders a Day is definitely one of them. Minn aims to expose the story behind the astronomical murder rate in the Mexican border city of Juarez, which, as the title indicates, averaged eight murders a day in 2010. The official line is that Juarez is caught in the crossfire of a war between two drug cartels, but Minn places the blame more heavily on the Mexican and American governments, for reasons ranging from neglect to outright genocide. Some of his more extreme interview subjects make broad, alarming claims backed up by little evidence, and the jump straight to conspiracy theories undermines Minn’s points.
The director’s filmmaking skills are also pretty amateurish; the movie is filled with recycled TV-news footage, and Minn awkwardly inserts himself into the story during an uneventful ride-along with a local news crew. He even throws in clips of himself being interviewed on local news programs in Texas, essentially using his own assertions as part of the evidence to back up … his own assertions. Those dubious tactics aside, the atrocities that Minn highlights are indeed horrifying, and the lack of solutions is sad and frustrating. A more well-constructed, less repetitive movie might have offered better insight or more solid arguments; 8 Murders ends up doing a disservice to the very real injustices it seeks to highlight.