REVIEW: Into the Abyss

6 02 2015

Into the AbyssWhen people think of documentaries, they often remember the most boring or the most didactic ones.  For many, non-fiction film is about telling you exactly what happened or, in the minds of the documentarian, exactly what needs to happen.  Werner Herzog’s “Into the Abyss” is neither of these.

Herzog does what most filmmakers set out to do – that is, to tell a story.  It’s one of true crime, a triple homicide in Conroe, Texas, resulting from complications in the robbery of a red Camaro.  A decade after the crime resulted in a life sentence for one and a death sentence for another, Herzog retraces the story from the beginning and allows the events to unfold rather slowly but still grippingly.

“Into the Abyss” isn’t selling any sort of viewpoint or moral cause, unlike most documentaries on law and order.  Herzog is a rather extreme case of laying all the information out there and allow the viewer to come to their own conclusions.  Some might prefer it if their documentary shouted to them that they should deplore the death penalty.  But I rather like being left to my own devices to ponder the movie as so many documentaries make their message clear from the get-go and being instantly forgettable.

Herzog gathers interviews from pretty much everyone involved in the story: the family members of the deceased, the law enforcement officials on the murders, the two robbers-turned-murderers, and even the man who will deliver the lethal injection.  With all these viewpoints, there’s a sense of comprehensiveness to the tale.  I don’t think Herzog’s film is perfect, but there’s something refreshing in its straightforward approach that leaves all the slanting to be done by the viewer.  B2halfstars

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