First Hit: Very strong and powerful documentary about a murder, families, and the death penalty.
This is an extremely well-constructed story by director Werner Herzog who uses archive interviews and police footage along with current interviews to create a complete story about a murder, incarceration and the actual putting one of the convicted to death.
Herzog speaks with the daughter of the murdered woman who confesses that she lost all her direct family members (outside of her children) within a couple of years of each other. One of the more interesting aspects of her interview is that she had her phone removed because only bad news comes over the phone.
Interviews with the two convicted men, Jason Burkett and Michael Perry, are very telling. Michael has been convicted of the actual killing and the interview takes place less than a week from his date with the death chamber. Michael is childlike in his actions and his look.
Jason has a 40 year sentence before he is up for parole. He’s darker and oddly detached. Burkett’s dad blames himself for his son’s troubles because he’s a lifelong prisoner and was never around. When he recounts his past sentences, one realizes that he’s spent his entire life in prison and this will probably be the way of his two sons as well.
Herzog is clear that he is against the death penalty and the interview with Dale Adams the former death penalty execution team is perfect about a man who learns taking another’s life, regardless of the law, is not right. Regardless of Herzog’s personal feelings about the death penalty, this is a strong open film.
Overall: You can’t miss with this film if you’re interested into going into an abyss.