In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog, probes the human psyche to explore why people kill - and why a state kills. In intimate conversations with those involved, including 28-year-old death row inmate Michael Perry (scheduled to die within eight days of appearing on-screen), Herzog achieves what he describes as "a gaze into the abyss of the human soul" Herzog's inquiries also extend to the families of the victims and perpetrators as well as a state executioner arid pastor who have been with death row prisoners as they've taken their final breaths. As he has so often done before, Herzog's investigation unveils layers of humanity, making an enlightening trip out of ominous territory.
Werner Herzog provides us with a slow, meandering look at a crime and the result of a crime; a death by lethal injection. I wouldn't say it's the most compelling documentary I've ever seen. There are huge gaps and missing pieces information that would have helped us at least feel attuned to the speakers on the screen. What were we supposed to take away from viewing this? That the death penalty is wrong? That the state these hard time criminals come from is poor and depressed? That the family cycle of violence repeats itself? That victims and their families never win in the end unless a life is taken? The most disturbing thing about the whole film was listening to the unrepentant but 'born-again' murderer say that he forgave everyone for 'murdering' him. Never once does he say he's sorry for murdering three people. Death just makes him a martyr in his own mind. It would better serve the community to make him sit in jail and think about what he's done for years on end until he dies a natural death in jail.
‘Into The Abyss’ is director Werner Herzog’s documentary on a gruesome crime that happened in the small town of Conroe, Texas – a triple homicide that has now sentenced two of its main suspects with lifetime imprisonment and death. It’s an unflinching testament to the brutality of murder and death, premeditated or not, and Herzog’s documentary is rife with both pragmatism and sentimentality.
Ten years ago, Michael Perry and his friend Jason Burkett, wanted to rob a red Camaro parked within a gated community. They killed the owner, a 50-year-old nurse, and then called her son and his best friend to help them with a code to open the gate. Upon arriving, Perry and Burkett gave chase as the victims ran into the woods, and ultimately, they too get murdered. After a shootout with the police, Perry and Burkett are arrested and convicted for the murders.
‘Into The Abyss’ features everyone directly and indirectly involved in the triple homicide, from relatives, neighbors, police, to even the man responsible for the last moments of those on death row. Standard true crime fare, sure, but with director Herzog, it’s not about eliciting shock as more of just presenting the facts and even commenting on the issue of death penalty. The German film maker strongly opposes death penalty and with his outsider’s point of view, he puts the American system of crime and punishment into focus.
Watching ‘Into The Abyss’ you are to have ponderous moments if the convicted felons, especially Michael Perry, who was interviewed 10 days prior to his execution, deserved his sentence. He smiles, recounts details of the murders, and pleads innocence, but he’s not fooling anybody. We learn that he grew up with a father as criminal as he is. The entire Conroe community is dirt poor and everyone either gets stabbed or shot at a regular basis. Tragedy bemoans this slice of Americana and director Herzog is well aware that death row’s Perry is a product of it. But then does that excuse his actions?
Compelling doesn’t even begin to describe ‘Into The Abyss’. Be ready to get schooled.