Starring Fred Allen, Jason Burkett, Melyssa Burkett, Werner Herzog, Michael Perry, Jeremy Richardson, Adam Stotler, Sandra Stotler, Kristen Willis
Directed by Werner Herzog
Expectations: Very high. I love Werner Herzog’s documentaries.
Werner Herzog set out to document and interview the death row inmates of five murder trials for a TV miniseries, but while working on this project, one of the stories caught his fancy and he decided to expand that case into a feature-length documentary. This, obviously, is that case, and while it doesn’t immediately strike you as one worth devoting an entire film to, it slowly unfurls itself in ways you don’t expect and it becomes apparent why. At least, in so much as the reasons of a man I’ve never met can become apparent to me.
The case is a triple murder carried out by two teenagers, Michael Perry and Jason Burkett. I had typed out a fairly detailed description of the basic murder, but then I realized that in this case a basic plot synopsis would undermine the entire drive of the documentary for those looking to see it. So, these kids performed three murders in 2000, one of them was sentenced to death and Herzog filmed his interviews with this man, Michael Perry, eight days before his execution. Herzog also interviews people surrounding the murders, including the other family members left behind, prison chaplains, and ex-Death Row guards.