When it comes to documentary filmmakers there are a couple of them that stand out to me either because of their personalities or their documentaries. Those are Morgan Sperlock, Michael Moore, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog. Especially Herzog stands out to me since the subject of his documentaries varies so much, whether it is a guy that was eaten by bears, wall paintings in a cave or in this documentary a murder case. He always adds his own trademark way of telling the story and asking questions others would not. An example here is at the beginning when he interviews a priest who is present at executions who tells him how he sometimes enjoys getting away from it all and go out golfing. He tells how he enjoys seeing the grass, the birds and squirrels. Herzog asks him if he could tell a story about the squirrels (you’d probably agree it’s a bit of an odd question) and the priest tells about them and breaks down. It’s exactly that which I like so much about Herzog.
Into the Abyss focusses on a triple murder case committed by Jason Burkett and Michael Perry. Burkett got a life sentence and Perry has been placed on death row. Herzog interviews them both and it’s interesting to see how someone who will die (Perry would get the lethal injection 8 days after the interview) talks about what he has done. This documentary isn’t just interviews with these convicts, but also with the family of the victims. It also looks into the case itself, which was all about stealing a car.
Herzog makes it very clear that he is not sympathetic towards the two (which he also tells them), but he does allow them to speak on what happened and their outlook on life. He also looks into the death penalty, interviewing a man who was present during many executions and decided to quit his job, because he just could not take it anymore and changed his stance on the subject.
With his usual style of interviewing and a very interesting subject, Into the Abyss is a documentary you shouldn’t miss if you are a fan of Herzog’s work. Even if you are not though I still suggest you check it out.