92- Into the Abyss [6.5]

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.

Each time I view a documentary, I carry a bit of suspicion with me. Regardless of the topic, a talented filmmaker can easily manipulate you in any number of ways, and I believe it’s worth being aware of when getting swept into one of these films. With that in mind, I was thoroughly impressed with how Werner Herzog largely lets you draw your own conclusions in Into the Abyss.

Having over forty years of documentary-making experience under his belt, Herzog opts to explore capital punishment by showing the facts of one particular crime case, as well as all the people surrounding it. Law officers, families of victims, and the criminals themselves explain how a series of murders went down and the rippling effects the events had on their lives. For a large part of Into the Abyss, capital punishment isn’t directly discussed (though we know at least one of the inmates will die of lethal injection in eight days from them being filmed) but the question of as to whether or not it’s right looms over the entire film.

Into the Abyss is not necessarily an enjoyable experience, nor one you’d likely watch again; however, it’s worth a viewing for how it gets you to think of a difficult subject in a non-manipulative fashion.

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