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Into the Abyss (2011)

PG-13 | | Documentary, Crime, Drama | 30 March 2012 (UK)
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Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill.


2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview:
Himself (voice)
Richard Lopez ...
Himself (as The Reverend Richard Lopez)
Michael Perry ...
Damon Hall ...
Lisa Stolter-Balloun ...
Charles Richardson ...
Jason Burkett ...
Jared Talbert ...
Amanda West ...
Delbert Burkett ...
Melyssa Thompson-Burkett ...
Herself (as Melyssa Burkett)
Fred Allen ...


Into the abyss explores a triple murder which occurred in the small Texas City of Conroe in 2001. Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, murdered a middle-aged housewife; they then gunned down her stepson and his friend. The film features Conversations with the two inmates and those affected by their crime. Unlike many of the films that deal with crimes, into the abyss isn't concerned with figuring out exactly what happened, but rather serves as an examination of why people - and the state - kill. Written by Brad

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material and some disturbing images | See all certifications »



| |


Release Date:

30 March 2012 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$47,559 (USA) (11 November 2011)


$216,262 (USA) (16 December 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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. Like the hummingbirds. Why are there so many of them.
See more »


Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.17 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Artificially Spiritual
16 September 2013 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This documentary feels lost between a spiritual exploration of the consequences of death and an investigation of the events of a violent crime but fails in both aspects.

I really felt that the film didn't have a true focus and wandered into a plea against the death penalty but you could feel that the filmmaker doesn't understand the American mindset and questioned some of the protagonists with a certain layer of intellectual arrogance.

Herzog didn't seem to emerge himself into the culture of the south, his cold shots of the poor rural areas only seemed to be integrated to showcase the "lower class" status of his protagonists instead of giving a true sense of the culture.

So for a European filmmaker with a completely different cultural background, the subject matter of the death penalty must seem to a certain extend absurd & uncivilized but in the "wild west" inheritance of the American experience, executing a man for justice is embedded for centuries into the mindset of the United States.

Even if his questions seemed to want to probe the emotional state of his protagonists, he didn't seem to really want to understand the "why" the death penalty is considered an acceptable form of justice in the States.

And for that, I believe that this documentary feels judgemental instead of actually a 'document' of an event or of a complex cultural subject matter.

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'I think he was the most dangerous of anyone I ever met.' mgr2000
Death Row inmates are going to die anyway...why speed up the process? s-d-2
Did anyone else get bored after 30 minutes? professorhulk
Justice melyssamachelle
Melyssa's Comment About Baby princess_of_pure_delight
confused about who was supposed to have committed the murders Evil_Will_Hunting
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