Skip to Content

IFC’s At the Death House Door documentary examines death penalty via death row chaplain

Tonight, IFC debuts At the Death House Door, a documentary that explores the death penalty in Texas via a pastor who served as a death row chaplain for 15 years. It debuts at 9 p.m. ET and repeats this weekend and next week. For those without access to IFC, the network has made the film available for download.

The film follows “Pastor Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain to the infamous ‘Walls’ prison unit in Huntsville” and “presided over 95 executions, including the world’s first lethal injection,” according to the network. He “had no reservations about presiding over executions, until that fateful day when his path crossed with that of a Hispanic man named Carlos de Luna, unjustly accused of homicide,” and “Pickett tape recorded much of his last day with de Luna. Listening to it, he became unshakably convinced of the man’s innocence, and used his inner conviction as an impetus to team up with crime reporters from the Chicago Tribune and delve into the facts surrounding De Luna’s highly questionable arraignment.”

It’s directed and filmed, respectively, by Steve James and Peter Gilbert, who produced the incredible documentary Hoop Dreams. Gilbert told the New York Times, “It’s the kind of film we gravitate to, letting one person’s story tell you about a much bigger issue.”

IFC has eight clips on its site, including the trailer:

At the Death House Door [IFC]
His Life With the Deaths That the State Carried Out [New York Times]

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More great stories

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


I value our community at reality blurred, which connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

Comment rules: My goal is for us to be able to share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space. That’s why I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to them.

Happy discussing!