While Into the Deep was just released on Netflix on September 30, 2022, it originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020. This 90 minute documentary film recounts the story of Kim Wall who was brutally murdered by amateur inventor Peter Madsen. It was delayed for Netflix release in order to re-edit the film to remove people who did not wish to be included.
Peter Madsen was convicted of murdering Swedish journalist Kim Wall while she was on his homemade submarine, the UC3 Nautilus. Wall was last seen alive in the submarine on August 11, 2017. The next day, Madsen was rescued from his sinking sub. When questioned about the location of Wall, Madsen has a few different stories.
First, he says he dropped her off before resubmerging. When this didn’t stick, he then said that she was killed accidentally from the hatch falling on her head. This story fell apart after Wall’s head was recovered and showed no signs of trauma. Now, he says it was carbon monoxide poisoning.
You and I both know he is lying, right? The autopsy reveals that she was actually stabbed several times. Not only that, but police found disturbing snuff films and asphyxiation pornography on Madsen’s computer. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2018.
What is Into the Deep really about?
Interestingly, Into the Deep isn’t really about Peter Madsen. It is compiled from footage captured by Australian filmmaker Emma Sullivan. Sullivan began filming Madsen’s workshop and lab a year prior to the murder. The documentary Sullivan was making was supposed to be about the rocket that he planned to use to launch himself into space.
After Wall’s murder, Sullivan was already there to capture the volunteers’ and workers’ at Madsen’s labs reactions to the developments as they came in. The stages of grief literally play out on the screen. They go from denial to rationalizing to accepting the truth.
We don’t really get that much Madsen, which I think was fine. It’s clear he’s a sociopath and I don’t much care what he has to say.
What’s missing, however, is the victim Kim Wall. I can’t even picture what Wall looked like. I’m sure the film showed her picture but it didn’t make an impression on me and I can’t swear we saw a close up of her. This is a big problem in my mind. I can clearly picture what Teresa Halbach whose death was covered in Making a Murderer looks like. There also aren’t any interviews of Wall’s family and friends. I know virtually nothing about Wall still.
Hold on to your horses.
Into the Deep moves at a brisk almost breakneck speed, and the pacing makes it an engaging watch. After so many doc series that are 6 or more episodes, a tight 90 minutes is such a breath of fresh air. It felt like 30 minutes to me, which is a testament to how engrossing it is.
I did get a bit glazed over with all the shop talk and technical jargon revolving around the inventions, but luckily Sullivan moves past that quickly.
The chronology of the documentary is unique. It intercuts film from before during and after the murder to great effect. You get an eerie feeling from Madsen’s behavior and words before the murder.
We thought we knew him!
The real draw in this doc are the emotional reactions of the people who worked closely with Madsen and thought they knew him. Sara’s story is particularly riveting. She had been the recipient of some texts from Madsen that are so scary in hindsight. He had invited her to go out in the submarine with him, but fate put Wall in the sub that day instead.
We also see texts where Madsen jokes about a murder plan. Which, weird, but it very specifically matches what ultimately happens to Wall. Sara didn’t think much of it at the time, but it has a whole new meaning now.
Other friends and colleagues had seen similar behavior. Weird jokes about killing, asking about what I can only assume is some kind of dark website. But they all think that Peter is fine and just a little odd. They were wrong.
The final shot of the doc is an interview with Peter shortly before the murder. He is discussing how psychopaths walk among us and he ruminates on whether a psychopath knows that he is a psychopath. Did Peter know? Signs point to yes.
Should you watch Into the Deep?
If you like true crime, I highly recommend Into the Deep. It taps into that fear that danger is just around the corner. Madsen was a nice guy, right? Until he wasn’t. Seeing the people around him react to this new reality is hard to take your eyes off.