Over the years, I've heard many people praise Angst and the immense impact it had on them, but sadly I was never able to get my hands on a copy of the film. Luckily, for me and for fans of the film, Cult Epics have given Gerald Kargl's controversial cult masterpiece a much deserved Blu-ray release.
Angst begins with a psychopathic killer (flawlessly portrayed by Erwin Leder) being released from prison after serving a ten year prison sentence for gunning down an elderly woman. Right from the start we're introduced to the stunning cinematography work from Zbigniew Rybczynski. It's very unconventional and mesmerizing at the same time, but I'll delve deeper into the camerawork in a bit. Fresh out of the prison gate, our killer wastes no time in getting back to his murderous rampage. Narrated by Leder as events unfold, we're placed inside the mind of the psychopath, this aspect adds a whole new layer of disturbia to the film. After botching an attempt at murdering a cab driver, he escapes into the woods and discovers a secluded mansion. Deciding this is the perfect location to carry out his murderous deeds, he breaks in and proceeds to carry out his vile desires.
While most serial killer film's focus on multiple characters, both killer and victims, Angst highlights the killer and follows him obsessively. The film kind of serves as a confessional for the killer as he narrates the traumas of his past that made him into the monster he is. Sexual abuse, neglect, humiliation, and abandonment are just a few of the childhood ordeals we hear about as he commits his violent acts. Wherein most films of this type tend to blame the killer, Angst refuses to place judgement. This creates one of the more disturbing aspects of the film as you're not sure if you should feel sorry for the killer or loathe him. I can't help but compare Leder's role to that of Michael Rooker's in Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer, as they both deliver overwhelmingly cold and emotionless performances.
One of the main things I admire about Angst is its ability to disturb you to the core without relying on gore to create an impact. With only one bloody scene in the film, this is quite an amazing feat. The film creates tension through foreboding atmosphere and a killer's cold-blooded perspective. Deep down, we learn that the madman gets off on the fear and suffering of others, but on the surface, there's absolutely no distinguishing killer from victim. Anxiety is heightened by an eerie and unnerving synth-based score from Klaus Schulze, which tremendously helps in creating a truly haunting experience.
Finally, I want to talk about the crown jewel of this film, the hypnotic and innovative cinematography. For a low-budget film, Angst has to be one of the most uniquely shot films that I've ever seen. Creative and dazzling in scope, we're treated to shaky POV shots, graceful overhead angles, and stunning tracking shots. Zbigniew's camerawork will change the way you view cinema, a truly remarkable work. This Blu-ray release makes the experience even more awe-inspiring with a fantastic new high definition transfer.
In terms of bonus features for this Blu-ray release, we're given a lengthy prologue that touches more on the character's history, an intro by filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Irreversible, Enter the Void), very informative interviews with Erwin Leder, Gerald Kargl, Jorg Buttgeriet, and Zbigniew Rybzcynski, and audio commentary by Gerald Kargl. I'd also like to note the 40-page booklet that's included, which features more interviews, rare photos and Werner Kniesek original Kurier articles.
Angst is a film that will leave you completely gutted. It isn't an easy film to sit through for all the right reasons and it's a film that you won't soon forget after a first time watch. It's a brutal gut-punch of a film that doesn't need graphic violence to get under your skin. Angst isn't a film, it's a uniquely devastating experience and one that I say is worth enduring if you're into films of its kind.
The film is now available on Blu-ray from Cult Epics.