Why Did You Kill Me? Movie Review: A criminally dull crime documentary
Why Did You Kill Me? is an 83-minute documentary that feels as dull as a Wikipedia page
Why Did You Kill Me? might come as a rude shock for fans of true-crime documentaries, considering how humdrum it turns out to be. The crime in question is how in 2006, 24-year-old Crystal Theobald was shot to death in the middle of a street, with the police left with no leads to trace the gunman. Frustrated with the stale investigation, Crystal's mother, Belinda Lane, decides to go the unconventional way, and weaponises MySpace to hunt down the suspects.
While the subject matter is awe-inspiring, the documentary really fails to capture all the intrigue. In its attempt to get beneath the surface of the tragedy, the narrative drifts far away from the heart of it all and beyond halfway, ends up losing steam. It doesn’t realise that a brooding mother’s pursuit to apprehend her daughter’s murderers is far more intriguing than a snapshot of California’s crime scene. The filmmakers’ inclination towards the ‘gangs’ behind the homicide robs us of the details of the harrowing journey that led to a mother’s vengeance.
When the investigation fails to make expected progress, the mother admits she schemed—and nearly implemented—the murder of 12 mobsters, who she thought were likely involved in her daughter’s murder. Such was her rage and anguish. Likewise, Crystal’s teenage cousin, Jamie Mcintyre, who accesses MySpace to lure possible suspects, says, “Making people fall in love with a dead person is not a good feeling.” The documentary, however, refrains from exploring the mental toll extracted by the outcry for justice. The film simply sticks to the high points of the investigation, all of which fail to leave an emotional impact. So, when justice finally prevails, you remain largely apathetic.
There are a few well-placed cinematic touches though. For instance, when Jamie first creates the fake MySpace profile, we see a picture of the American rock band named She Wants Revenge. Likewise, instead of recreating the tragic events with actors, filmmaker Fredrick Munk opts to stage them in a miniature neighborhood model with equally tiny stand-ins for cars and criminals. Furthermore, we learn that Crystal’s family have had their share of trouble with the legal system for their crimes in the past, but this angle is carefully brushed aside to paint a whitewashed picture of them.
The documentary aspires to be an effective film akin to The Pharmacist, a true-crime documentary series that follows a father who unravels unthinkable secrets behind the murder of his son. On the contrary, it only feels like you are skimming through a Wikipedia page of the investigation.