‘Into the Deep’ Review (Sundance 2020)

Into the Deep is an astonishing and bone-chilling true-crime documentary about a human monster hiding in plain sight.

On August 10, 2017, charismatic Danish inventor Peter Madsen and journalist Kim Wall set sail in his homemade submarine, the UC3 Nautilus, in the waters outside of Copenhagen. The events that unfolded from there would shock the world, as, first, the Nautilus failed to return, then it was found, sunken, with only Madsen (alive and well) on board, and then it was discovered that Wall had been brutally murdered.

Madsen repeatedly changed his story about what happened on their fateful trip – he spoke of mechanical failures, of dropping Wall off on shore alive, and later, mentions of an accident involving a hatch – but as further details were uncovered over time, what began to emerge was a portrait of Peter Madsen as an unimaginable monster.

A year prior to these events, Australian filmmaker Emma Sullivan had contacted and begun filming Madsen for a documentary about him and his ambitious and unorthodox inventions. Without any formal education to speak of, he had developed and built rocket ships with the help of an enthusiastic group of young volunteers, many of them engineers or junior engineers, who were captivated by his magnetic, larger-than-life personality, and excited by his bold ideas and ambition.

Remarkably, Sullivan was documenting Madsen and his team in the months leading up to and following the murder, including first-person interviews with him on the very day of Wall’s disappearance. As the events surrounding Wall’s death unfolded, Sullivan captured them in real time, including the reactions from his crew as they struggle to come to terms with what has happened, and the horrible truth of who Madsen really was.

The footage, initially meant as a portrait of an eccentric inventor, suddenly takes on new meaning after Wall’s disappearance, the film instead becomes a true-crime documentary, a bone-chilling portrait of a stone-cold killer hiding in plain sight.

Bouncing in time between footage filmed prior to, up to and in the immediate aftermath of Wall’s murder and through the eventual trial, Into the Deep is an astonishing and uniquely terrifying look at a killer in our midst, a shocking study of a murderous psychopath / sociopath in action that will – especially in its final moments – shake you to your core.

Into the Deep premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25th, 2020.

Country: Denmark

Run Time: 90 minutes

Company: Netflix

 

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