Into the Abyss

"Extraordinary"

Into the Abyss Review


Herzog departs sharply from the quirky tone of his recent documentaries to offer a startlingly astute and sensitive exploration of a horrific murder case.

But more generally, he's looking at the use of the death penalty in the United States.

The only developed nation still executing its own citizens, America's history with capital punishment is baffling to Herzog, who looks into one case to try and understand the cultural mindset. After a ghastly 2001 triple murder in Texas, the 18-year-old cohorts were convicted in separate trials: Michael Perry was sentenced to death, while Jason Burkett received 40 years. Both talk extensively on camera to Herzog, who also interviews family members of the victims and locals from the town of Conroe.

What emerges is a detailed picture of how this crime has affected a variety of people, and not one problem is solved by executing Perry in July 2010. Typical for Herzog, he finds telling angles on the story by asking deceivingly simple questions. The conversation with Melyssa Burkett, who married Jason in prison, is given a twist from the first shot, which has a highchair in the background.

Sure enough, she's pregnant, but is cagey about how that happened when she's not allowed conjugal visits with her husband.

By contrast, the most telling interview is with Fred Allen, who ran Texas' Huntsville Death House through the execution-filled Bush years, then had a crisis of conscience. And then there's Delbert Burkett's moving interview: he's also behind bars and realises that his example probably let to his son's derailed life. Mixed with painfully honest comments from victims families and the killers themselves, the film takes on a tone that thoroughly disarms our expectations.

Herzog never drums up sympathy for the criminals; he reserves that for the victims' family members. Indeed, watching Perry and Burkett turn on each other is ugly. But the question is whether a civilised society should be killing its citizens. Throughout the film, Herzog quietly observes facts and emotions that challenge an-eye-for-an-eye justice, noting that Jesus rejected this kind of Old Testament principle, and yet it's America's religious right who staunchly support executions. This is one of those films that gets deeply under your skin, and without ever preaching makes you examine your prejudices and perhaps change the way you think.



Into the Abyss

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th March 2012

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Creative Differences

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 93 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Jason Burkett as Himself, as Himself, Michael Perry as Himself, Jeremy Richardson as Himself, Kristen Willis as Herself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.