The Three Deaths of Marisela Escobedo – Netflix Documentary Review

A Ripple Becomes A Tsunami

On average, ten women are murdered each day in Mexico. Staining that damning statistic further is the shocking conclusion that 97% of all femicides go unpunished. America is well known around the world for its corruption and at the heart of that continent (both geographically and literally) lies Mexico.

The Three Deaths of Marisela Escobedo showcases an intimate, eye-opening case back in 2008 that sparked a wave of social activism against the government and corrupt police officers. Marisela Escobedo’s crusade began around this time following the murder of her 16 year old daughter Ruby Frayre.

Despite Sergio Rafael apologizing in court and incriminating himself – giving a precise location for where the body was buried no less – the court acquitted him of any wrong-doing.

The ensuing wave of grief manifested itself into Marsela’s pursuit for justice, with numerous protests and marches across the country gaining National and International news coverage. Under pressure, Chihuahua state authorities were eventually overturned and Sergio was wanted for murder and remained a fugitive.

All of this drama culminates in the shocking murder of Marisela in 2010 where an unknown assassin shot her in the head.

Clocking in at 100 minutes or so, Three Deaths examines this case through the lens of the family and experts from that time. There’s a somewhat balanced perspective here too, especially surrounding the court case. For example, it turns out self-incriminating admissions of guilt are overturned without evidence, which is why Sergio was free to go.

There’s a consistent tone here that reads as a pretty damning report against the Mexico government. There’s no doubt that the case was botched and as shown across the movie, the police do themselves no favours with their nonchalant attitude.

The big message from this movie though is just how much of a difference one person can make. We’ve seen these movements across the world before but seeing just one person cause a ripple that eventually grows into a tsunami is incredibly inspirational.

If there’s one blemish on this documentary though, it comes from the expository shots. These scenes used to stitch together the interviews and various facts drag on far too long and worse, the reenactments feel distractedly artistic. It’s not a deal breaker but it is worth bearing in mind as parts of this documentary could have done with an injection of pace.

Still, that’s a minor point in what’s otherwise a solid and absorbing documentary. While police corruption is nothing new in the true crime world, this is still an important and worthwhile case well worth watching.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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