Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Summary: 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, 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. (IFC Films) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Nov 23, 2011
    100
    Into the Abyss makes a strong case for the inhumanity of capital punishment, regardless of the crime or the criminal.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 3, 2011
    91
    It gives ample play to all sides of the argument. Herzog allows us to think things through on our own.
  3. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 17, 2011
    88
    Into the Abyss is a true-crime drama, to be sure, but in Herzog's hands it becomes something much more: an inquiry into fundamental moral, philosophical, and religious issues, and an examination of humankind's capacity for violence - individual and institutional.
  4. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Nov 6, 2011
    80
    But above all it's a portrait of stunned grief, of the devastation families endure, whether through violence, accidents, illness or incarceration.
  5. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Nov 8, 2011
    80
    An egalitarian study of crime and punishment in a small Southern town, Into the Abyss is also an unmistakably Herzogian inquiry into the lawlessness of the human soul.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 10, 2011
    75
    The film is a river of pain, weirdly funny in places, as are all of Herzog's filmic essays.
  7. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 17, 2011
    25
    A shapeless collection of encounters with Texas prison inmates and their victims, what could have been a well-aimed examination of the most troubling contradictions of capital punishment instead becomes a maudlin, unrestrained wallow.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. Apr 24, 2012
    9
    A phenomenal documentary that tells both sides of the story well. Never really favouring one. Herzog wisely never puts himself in front of the camera as to make it all about the story being told. This documentary will have you doubting if capital punishment is right. Expand
  2. Jul 2, 2012
    9
    How you are likely to feel about this film depends on your past experience with its director, and your need for resolution. In this film, Werner Herzog, who Expand
  3. May 4, 2012
    9
    Excellent documentary from Herzog. But it is important to keep in mind that this isn't The Thin Blue Line, and instead of turning this documentary into some kind of television crime drama, Herzog simply explores the crime, and the minds of those involved and affected by it. Excellent documentary. Expand
  4. Dec 12, 2011
    8
    Another great documentary from Herzog. To those who are disenchanted with it's spiraling out and choice to not answer questions, in response to this critique, this is where it's important to remember the title. This film takes you into the abyss where answers do not exist and everything becomes complicated and unclear. Would expect nothing less from Herzog. Expand
  5. j30
    Apr 29, 2012
    7
    Werner Herzog's fascinating social documentary about the controversial death penalty, is both refreshingly unbiased and heartfelt throughout. Herzog asks all the right questions and leaves it to the viewer to decide. Expand
  6. Nov 29, 2011
    6
    I really did not get much why out of this film than I would from a television show. . Why did they kill? Stupid? Why death in one case and life in the other? Money/jurors? Maybe it is all unexplainable. I did not think Herzog delved into any of it enough to offer a case or documentary with a passion. The most interesting part was the death row groupie but even there the ball was dropped. She was obviously as nutty as the murderers but why. Again, no real insight. Don't go out of your way to see it. Expand
  7. Mar 22, 2012
    2
    When compared to the First 48 series this documentary is very weak. The storyline is weak and meandering. The film appears outdated as this genre has much better offerings on TV. Can't see why he made this. Collapse

See all 9 User Reviews

Trailers