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Into the Abyss (2011)

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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.

Director:

Werner Herzog
2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Werner Herzog ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Richard Lopez Richard Lopez ... Himself - Death House Chaplin (as The Reverend Richard Lopez)
Michael Perry Michael Perry ... Himself - Death Row Inmate (as Michael James Perry)
Damon Hall Damon Hall ... Himself - Montgomery County Sheriff's Department
Lisa Stolter-Balloun Lisa Stolter-Balloun ... Herself - Daughter and Sister to Victims
Charles Richardson Charles Richardson ... Himself - Older Brother of Jeremy
Jason Burkett Jason Burkett ... Himself - Convicted Murderer
Jared Talbert Jared Talbert ... Himself - Citizen of Conroe Texas
Amanda West Amanda West ... Herself - Former Bartender
Delbert Burkett Delbert Burkett ... Himself - Jason Burkett's Father
Melyssa Thompson-Burkett Melyssa Thompson-Burkett ... Herself - Jason Burkett's Wife (as Melyssa Burkett)
Fred Allen Fred Allen ... Himself - Former Captain pf Death House Team
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Storyline

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 »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK | Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 March 2012 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

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

Filming Locations:

Conroe, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$47,559, 13 November 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$216,262, 18 December 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

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.
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Connections

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

Soundtracks

End Credits and Incidental Music
(untitled) Composer: Mark Degliantoni.
SEBASTIAN STEINBERG - guitars and contra bass.
LISA GERMANO - violins.
DAVID BYRNE - guitar.
PETER BECK - winds.
COLIN STEVENS - instrument designs.
MARK DEGLIANTONI - keyboards and percussion.
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User Reviews

 
A look into the lives surrounding a Texas execution
17 March 2012 | by jaonealSee all my reviews

Herzog's work may lend itself to interpretation more than most. And while it may just be a quibble of emphasis, I would not, as the other two reviewers here have, say this is essentially a documentary about 'capital punishment'. Just as I would not say "grizzly man" was really a documentary about bear attacks. Herzog lets it be known he doesn't approve of the death penalty, but mostly, like most Herzog documentaries, this just struck me as a portrait of (as another reviewer put it well) the "ill-fated".

Certainly, if you go into this thinking you're going to get Michael Moore style anti-death penalty agitprop, you're going to be disappointed. This is a series of interviews with a Texas death row inmate scheduled for imminent execution (an inmate Herzog has characterized in interviews as a "truly frightening" human being) and the lives of some of those either the case, or the Texas Death Penalty system generally, have touched upon. It is probably the least sensationalistic account of its sort put on film. And for that alone, Herzog deserves praise.

Having lived in Houston for many years and knowing this area just north of it pretty well, I can say Herzog is able convey a lot about the area and its people, through the lens of this horrific act, very well.

Well, once more, what is it about, if not capital punishment.... I think Herzog in a related context (his "On Death Row" documentary series) may have put it best when an attorney he was interviewing noted 'we all have a need to humanize' and rationalize these people who have done terrible things, and Herzog stopped them to say "I don't humanize them. I don't want to humanize. They simply are human beings". And that's kind of how I saw 'into the abyss'. It's not an attempt to rationalize or humanize a triple-murderer, nor is it an attempt rationalize, demonize, or humanize state sanctioned execution. It's just portrait of a piece of life as it is now lived.


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