Into The Abyss (2011, Werner Herzog)

Herzog, whose voice is too rarely heard, listens to the stories of people affected by a stupid double murder in Texas, mostly the victims’ families but also a few unenlightening minutes with the killers themselves. There’s little attempt to question whether these two (one of whom is on death row; the other avoided execution because his dad cried in front of the jury) actually committed the crimes. And there’s little attempt to make polarizing statement regarding the death penalty, until the end when the movie tries to land hard on the anti- side. But I’ve been on the anti side for years, and the movie almost has me convinced that the death penalty is a great thing, because these kids are horrible and have learned nothing, so they might as well be dead. One of the highlights is a long interview with a former death row prison guard, who walks us through the whole procedure before saying he had to quit after too many executions messed with his head. No mercy from Texas. Music by Soul Coughing’s Mark De Gli Antoni.

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