As serial killer Lothar Schramm lies dying in his own blood, horrific memories of his miserable life of paranoia, self-harm and rejection flash before his eyes. A tragic look into the mind of a serial killer.
Florian Koerner von Gustorf,
A former nazi child-killer is confined in an iron lung inside an old mansion after a suicide attempt. His wife hires him a full-time carer, a mysterious young man who is driven slowly mad by the old man's disturbing past.
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 disabled 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
ANGST is a thoroughly unpleasant film. But don't let that put you off. A movie about a messed-up serial killer should feel that way. It's testament to the skill of the filmmaking and the acting that a movie gets under your skin. Too many so-called shockers fail in that regard. The most obvious example is 'Saw', with its stupid, hyperactive editing and its ridiculous killer. 'Angst' feels as real as this type of movie can get.
It starts with the nameless psychopath holed up in prison, aware of his own sadistic thoughts but hiding them from the prison's psychologists. When they try to psychoanalyse him, he just says he dreams about flowers. I guess the Austrian legal system is more trusting than other countries, because they let the guy out again after almost stabbing his mother to death (four-year sentence) and then killing a 70-year-old (ten-year sentence).
Within an hour of release, he's gnawing on a sausage in a café (via some disgusting extreme close-ups) and leering at some women, wondering how he's going to kill them. But he's sane enough to know he can't get away with it, so he gets out of the place.
It's only a brief delay. Soon the psychopath is in a taxi with a female driver. She reminds him of an ex-girlfriend who used to love being abused. When that plan goes tits-up, he runs into the woods, frustrated and desperate to kill. He breaks into what he thinks is a deserted house... until a disabled man wheels up to him and calls him "Papa". Then that guy's sister and elderly mother show up too....
'Angst' is often compared to 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer'... another troubling but excellent serial killer movie. ANGST lacks the depth of style that 'Henry' has, which is brilliantly acted and directed with a bunch of memorable moments. But 'Angst' has a number of unique things going for it. The hand-held shots are incredibly smooth and dreamlike, hovering in front of the killer's frantic face. It reminded me of the odd Eastern European style of 'The Cremator', another very creepy killer flick. The camera must be on some movable scaffold attached to the actor, either that or the camera operator was extremely light of their feet.
The deaths in 'Angst' are also brutal, nasty, and (save for blood spurting on the killer's face from the wrong angle) uncomfortably real. There's also interesting artistic touches, one of which is the family's pet dachshund. The dog's reaction to events is shown a lot, working in the mutt as a character. He looks curiously at the killer a lot, tries to bite him as he kills the girl, and eventually ends up as the killer's companion.
It's surprising that Kargl has no other credits other than a small documentary. I guess 'Angst' isn't the sort of movie that will ingratiate you to film producers. But it's a shame 'Angst' isn't better known. Apparently it was a big influence on Gaspar Noe ('Irreversible', 'I Stand Alone'), but I prefer 'Angst'. It doesn't revel in shocks so much as to desensitise you to them. The shocking moments work in 'Angst' because they're largely unpredictable.
In fact, the whole movie is pitched at the right levels. The dark humour isn't overstated, the pace is fluid, and it's neatly structured with a great ending. Find a way to get hold of a subtitled version of 'Angst' and check out an excellent example of its genre.
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