Into the Abyss (4/21/12)

Into the AbyssMovie Ninety Two

Into the Abyss is a documentary from the great Werner Herzog about a triple homicide case and the two men charged.

The film centers around Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, both convicted of separate murders in October of 2001. The two men (boys at the time) apparently broke into a woman’s house to steal her car, ended up killing her and later killing her son and his friend. The two deny their own involvement and blame the other one entirely. Perry is on death row while Burkett is serving life. The interviews with Perry came just eight days before his execution.

While the content of Into the Abyss is powerful, the message is confused or muddled. In an interview with Perry, Herzog himself states that he does not believe in the death penalty. We see both sides of the justice system, there is no bias in the interviews, but by the end I was wondering what the point was. The case covered is very interesting but does not even seem to be the main focus for the film, even though it largely is. The details of the case got a bit confusing for me by the end, as well, but that may be more a fault of mine than the film’s.

Herzog’s documentaries typically transcend more than the subject matter at hand and they are tremendously powerful, but Into the Abyss just did not do it for me. I can’t help but feel the film, while enjoyable, was a bit directionless. The subject matter is interesting enough to hold Into the Abyss above water, as is Herzog’s direction.

I give it 3 insane woman meeting inmates to get pregnant out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


8 responses to “Into the Abyss (4/21/12)

  1. This is an incredibly important film and comment on the immorality of the death penalty. Yeah, that inmate-wife was definitely interesting to say the least. I plan on showing this film in my classes when I teach Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD.

  2. Pingback: April Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  3. I don’t think “Into the Abyss” is really about the death penalty at all, and the crime itself is incidental to what I think Herzog is trying to achieve. For me, Herzog’s strange line of questioning, taking his subjects off on surreal tangents, highlighted humor and hope in the most dire circumstances.

    Many of his films tackle humankind’s relationship with the extremes of nature, and here he focuses on people surrounded by the most extreme natural force of all, Death – and Herzog manages to find evidence of life in the Abyss….

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