Into The Abyss (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

Into The Abyss (2011)



Critic Consensus: Another probing, insightful look at an interesting subject, Werner Herzog explores the American prison system with passion and not politics.

Into The Abyss Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

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 and pastor who've been with death row prisoners as they've taken their final breaths. As he's so often done before, Herzog's investigation unveils layers of humanity, making an enlightening trip out of ominous territory. -- (C) Official Sitemore
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic material and some disturbing images)
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Werner Herzog
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 10, 2012
Box Office: $0.2M
IFC Films - Official Site


Michael Perry
as Michael Perry
Jason Burkett
as Jason Burkett
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Into The Abyss

Critic Reviews for Into The Abyss

All Critics (109) | Top Critics (29)

...adopts the posture of an empathetic listener.

Full Review… | November 11, 2015

Werner Herzog has a well-deserved reputation for tackling difficult, risky subjects. It took courage to enter the Lone Star State and wade into the mire of capital punishment.

Full Review… | August 4, 2015
America Magazine

Herzog is a superb interviewer, never bludgeoning the interviewees with his power as filmmaker nor shying away out of discretion or discouragement.

Full Review… | August 4, 2015

As it winds to its inevitable conclusion, viewers are left to ponder right and wrong, and most will have the same mixed feelings they had before they took their first bite of popcorn. This looks to be on the short list for Oscar contenders.

Full Review… | July 11, 2015
Film Threat

The star filmmaker, oft mocked for verging on self-parody, keeps his Teutonic explorer persona in check and allows his subjects' emotional outpourings-sadness, shame, dread, and desperation, and unexpected glimmers of hope and happiness-to set the tone.

Full Review… | July 1, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

A smart documentary that takes sides in the death penalty debate but never shies away from the horrendous crimes at the center of the story.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

Audience Reviews for Into The Abyss

This is a unique documentary and it is one that takes a look at a death row inmate and the story behind his crime. Into the Abyss is a solid film, but one that is hard to watch, and is the type of film that you only need to see once. Due to its subject matter, it's not one worth watching again. This is a powerful in your documentary. Werner Hezrog narrates and interviews the subjects, each tell their story and Hezrog interviews the victim's family and other people that are part of the case. The film is disturbing and is a truly one of a kind. This is a well crafted documentary and one worth seeing, but it is not for everyone. The subject Michael Perry is clearly a psycho and he claims his innocence, even if the DNA evidence says otherwise. Although interesting, I won't rewatch this, and it is quite hard times to watch, especial when you hear the victim's story. The film gives us an in depth look at Death row, and it's an unforgettable film that is sure to stay with you long after you see it. This is a brilliant movie that is sure to entertain documentary lovers. The subject is intense, but quite captivating, and Hezrog does not portray Perry as a victim, if you look closely, you can clearly see that Perry is deranged, and thinks he did no wrong. Well, Hezrog definitely proves that he's a murderer who has no empathy or sympathy for the victims. His last words were even I forgive you for the wrong that you committed to me, as if the victims haven't suffered enough. Hezrog shows Perry exactly as he is a murderer with no conscience. Into the Abyss is unforgettable documentary filmmaking at its very best.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer


Fred Allen: Hold still and watch the birds. Once you get up into your life like that, and once you feel good about your life, you do start watching what the birds do. What the doves are doing. The hummingbirds. My, there's so many of them. 

"A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life"

Into the Abyss is another remarkable documentary from one of films greatest ever, Werner Herzog. It's crazy how he can inject beauty into everything he touches. Now with Into the Abyss, the beauty isn't overpowering, as the story doesn't really call for it, but it's still there. It's in the questions that Herzog asks, it's in the statements members of the deceased families makes; it's there. 

This documentary follows a triple murder and the two men charged with the crime. One of which was put to death, the other was sentenced to life in prison. Both men claim they had no involvement in the murder. Herzog isn't trying to make a case that either of the men is guilty or innocent. He's not tying to make a case for the abolition of the death penalty. He states that he doesn't believe human beings should be executed, but he enters the story with no bias at all in his presentation of everything. This is something that very few documentaries made on controversial subjects are able to do. Most of the time, the filmmakers bias will enter into the story. Herzog's does not and that's his genius.

Interviews include a clergy member who goes to see men who are about to be put to death, a sister and daughter of two of the victims, a brother of the other victim, the father of one of the man who was sentenced for life, a man who worked at the place where death row inmates take their final breath, and the wife of the man who was sentenced to life. Each and every interview has extreme power because what is spoken is spoken from the heart. Herzog is spot on with the questions he asks too. He always knows where to take an interview and he does so here with precise perfection.

Into the Abyss is a great documentary and just proves once again why Herzog is a legend. It's sad to watch the families talk about it all, but once again Herzog does find the beauty in it. The film can be hard to watch at times because of the subject material and all of the facts that are brought out, but it is a film that deserves to be watched. 

Melvin White

Super Reviewer


Master filmmaker Werner Herzog does it again. This time, he investigates a triple homicide case that took place in 2001 in Conroe, Texas. Along the way, he delves into why people kill, and why states enact the death penalty. Despite clearly stating his opinion on the subject, Herzog comes to this documentary with no agenda, and lets viewers ultimately decide for themselves what is right or wrong.

Incorporating police footage, interviews with family of the victims, law men, clergy men, the perpetrators, and others, this is a tremendously gripping and fascinating piece of work. It can be quite hard to watch at times, but it is so compelling that you can't help but watch. And, despite a few light hearted and quirky moments, this definitely ranks as one of Herzog's most depressing and unsettling films.

It could have been so easy for him to get on a soap box and preach for a while, but Herzog takes the smart route and just tells a story, leaving the tough stuff up to the viewer, which, with a touchy subject like capital punishment, is the best way to go. Highly recommended.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Into The Abyss Quotes

Werner Herzog: Wow. I never realized the extent of capital punishment till I saw this. Who won in this? It seems to me, there was no win. Just a lot of losses. The state of Texas is no different from taking a life than Micheal Perry. Again... Wow.
– Submitted by Barbara M (3 years ago)
Michael Perry: I tell people all the time, I'm either going home, or home.
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)
Jason Burkett: I want fifty children.
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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