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A man is released from prison after serving ten years for murdering an elderly woman. He quickly begins to feel the compulsion to kill again. After failing to murder a cab driver, he flees and discovers a secluded rural home, where a young woman lives with her sick mother and retarded brother. He then begins to take out his sadistic pleasures on them, attempting to hold them hostage, while thinking of his troubled childhood with his abusive mother and grandmother... Written by
I can honestly say I rarely felt so uncomfortable as when watching Gerald Kargl's masterpiece "Angst". Several friends on this website & forum have been recommending this gem to me since years already, but it's so damn obscure and difficult to come across. Now I can finally join the others and do my share of recommending this film to fellow horror fanatics, as it truly deserves to be known and worshiped! Watching "Angst" is very much unlike every cinematic experience you ever had before, as you can't possibly compare it with anything. John McNaughton's classic "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" probably comes the closest, but still "Angst" is at least ten times more grim, nihilistic, relentless and shocking. From the first second until the very last, Kargl's film displays the intense & harrowing confrontation with a maniacal killer and there isn't a single moment of humor or merciful fate for the killer's victims to be found throughout the entire playtime. "Angst" is a deeply unpleasant but indescribably fascinating descent into the darkest corners of the human mind and the fact that the whole script is based on true events only makes it all the more alarming. Erwin Leder magnificently depicts the nameless murderer and he's in every sequence, from the moment he's released from prison (for murdering his mother in the past) until his new killing spree comes to an abrupt end. The man doesn't even attempt to build up a new life, as murder is the only thing on his mind. Walking out of prison, he's already searching for new and potential victims to murder and you can tell it won't take much time before he finds them. After an unsuccessful attempt to strangle a female cab driver, he flees into the woods and eventually entrenches himself in a secluded villa where an elderly woman lives with her daughter and handicapped son. They form the ideally defenseless targets to still his inhumanly cruel and sick hunger for murderous power and the rest of the film is a non-stop series of cold-hearted and sadistic images, including blood-drenched mutilation and even post-mortem rape.
The character Erwin Leder portrays is an intriguing psychopath, to say the least. He doesn't speak much in the film, but there's a constant voice-over enlightening us about his thoughts and impressions. The killer is obsessed with fear. Hence the title, presumably. The opening monologue in the film explains how the last memory he has of his dying mother involved the fear in her eyes as he planted a knife in her chest. Since then, fear became his one and only motive to kill again. He wants everyone who crosses his path to fear him. This is also where the connection with real-life serial killer Werner Kniesek comes from. This deranged psycho was arrested in 1980, after savagely butchering three people in Salzburg; Austria. Kniesek later testified in court that he only did it because he got addicted to the reflection of genuine fear in his victims' eyes. Erwin Leder definitely succeeds in translating the killer's obsession with fear on the screen. He's a nervous and obviously disorientated person and you're expecting him to explode with rage at any given moment. Heck, even the way he devours an ordinary sausage is literally terrifying. The brilliance of "Angst" relies on the devoted work of only four people. Erwin Leder for his performance, naturally, and then Gerald Kargl (director), Zbigniew Rybszynski (cinematography) and Klaus Schulze. Kargl sacrificed a potentially great career in order to complete this film. After the release of "Angst", there wasn't a single company that dared to distribute it because they were afraid of censorship, resulting in an endless series of financial problems for the director. Kargl's vision & courage was far ahead of its time, but it cost it his own career. He can now only find comfort in the fact that his film inspired an entire next generation of horror filmmakers. Rybszynski's hectic filming style contributes a great deal to the disturbing and nightmarish atmosphere of "Angst". The film is stuffed with chaotic camera movements, extreme close-ups and creepy POV-shots. This experimental style makes it feel like a voyeuristic documentary and you're almost feeling guilty for staring at these people's misery without trying to help. Last but not least, there's the haunting musical score by Klaus Schulze. Even though the tunes sound typically 80's, they're petrifying and really ominous.
"Angst" is a shamefully obscure film, probably because the people who saw it upon its original release decided that it was better to ignore the brutally realistic depiction of our modern society. Hopefully the newly released DVD-edition will provide Gerald Kargl & C° with the honor, recognition and respect they already deserved more than 20 years ago.
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