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Into the Abyss

By AARON MESH
With the characteristically disconsolate title Into the Abyss, Werner Herzog’s death-row movie has less of the “travelogue with philosophical footnotes” quality that has marked (and sometimes cheapened) his recent output. It helps that the director, who conducts jailhouse interviews from offscreen, for once cannot possibly be more gloomy or absurd than his subject. He is the second documentary master to tackle true crime this year: Into the Abyss is far bleaker than Errol Morris’ Tabloid, but no less nuts. Herzog profiles Michael Perry, executed by the state of Texas on July 1, 2010, for the killing of three people—including a mother and son—in order to steal a red Chevy Camaro from a home’s garage inside a gated community. Meeting with victims’ relatives, other convicts and Perry himself (eight days before lethal injection), Herzog elicits bewildering details from staggeringly luckless people. As Perry maintains his innocence against a landfill of evidence, the bucktoothed 28-year-old man recalls how the one opportunity afforded him in his teen years, an Outward Bound canoe trip to the Everglades, culminated (à la Aguirre) in an attack by monkeys. Herzog remains peerless as a poet of logistics. He notices that the car Perry once wanted has sat in an impound lot for 10 years. While Perry waited to die, a tree grew inside it.
 

Special Note

Fifth Avenue Cinema. 7 and 9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, March 1-3
 
  • Genres: Documentary
  • Running Time: 107 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, November 11, 2011
  • Country: Germany
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 [ Mature Thematic Material, Some Disturbing Images ]
  • Critic's Score: A-
  • Directed by: Werner Herzog [Director]
  • Watch the trailer
 

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