Review by Andrew Wertz
“8 Days” takes on the heavy task of handling the often ignored issue of human trafficking in America. Although there have been several high profile campaigns on the issue affecting young women all over the country, it is still forgotten and ignored by the public. Nicole Smolen delivers a raw and emotional performance as Amber, a girl who is abducted from a party and forced into prostitution. “8 Days” is a disturbing and visceral film that illuminates a serious yet overlooked problem.
The film begins with a very rocky first act, as the audience is slowly introduced to Amber and her family, and eased into the abduction. “8 Days” provides too much backstory, and the camera often lingers after the scene is clearly finished, so we can see the characters talk about how they liked their dinner or another unrelated topic. The lengthy and largely pointless first act throws off the film’s timing completely; the eight days of the film only takes up about half of the runtime, with a third being spent on the few hours leading up to the abduction.
However, once Amber is abducted, “8 Days” quickly becomes a disturbing drama, depicting the reality of forced prostitution. The film has a gritty style, relying on long takes, dutch angles, and quick camerawork. 8 Days doesn’t show any nudity- in fact, the film has a PG13 rating- but is still visceral and raw, mainly through its cinematics and strong acting, Unfortunately, the music clashes with the cinematography, and is usually ill-fitting and obtrusive to what is being shown on screen.
While captive, Amber is with two older prostitutes, BB and Sugar, who were sold into prostitution years ago. Amber pulls away from the girls, but the scenes establish the hierarchy and the internal structure of the prostitution ring. Although BB and Sugar were in the same situation and both try to comfort Amber in some way, BB’s main duty is to make sure that she work. Both BB and Amber deliver raw and emotionally charged performances, and makes up for the film’s repetition and meandering.
The film has a lengthy conclusion and epilogue that shows what happens to Amber and her captors. However, the film delivers several monologues about human trafficking that quickly become repetitive. The film often speaks to its own importance directly, rather than just relying on the film to show the importance of the issue with its characters and realistic style. Although “8 Days” suffers from a slow and pointless first act, as well as a few other road bumps, it is a well-shot and acted social issue drama that exposes a serious problem.