An unnerving insight into the demented mind of a pure psychopath, Angst is one of the most disturbing films of its kind. A brutal, disquieting & uncompromising portrait of a serial killer that’s also notable for its unconventional camerawork, this Austrian chiller is thrilling, captivating & thoroughly unsettling from the first frame to the last.
The story follows a convicted killer who gets out of prison after serving his sentence but senses a growing urge to kill again the moment he is out in public. After a failed attempt, he comes across a secluded house and executes his sadistic fantasies on an unsuspecting family while thinking about his troubled childhood with his abusive mother.
Co-written & directed by Gerald Kargl, the film packs a simple, straightforward plot but the way it’s narrated makes it an utterly discomforting sit. Employing numerous narrative techniques to drive the viewers into a corner before launching its assault, Kargl delivers the scares with nail-biting effectiveness and unfolds the events with alarming intensity.
The plot is narrated from the killer’s perspective and while there is no inner conflict present here, we do get a peek into his state of mind as he keeps talking about his abusive childhood as an attempt to rationalise his irrational impulses. His thoughts may be unreliable after all but it makes sure that the viewers are left with no choice but to be stuck with him for all 75 minutes.
Unlike the Hollywood counterparts where the serial killer’s modus operandi is often romanticised, Angst aims for a far realistic approach by focusing on the killer’s inner compulsion to kill and his absolute inability to exercise any restraint on his impulses. Throughout the film, he talks about having a sorted plan for his potential victims but when the time comes, he is overpowered by emotions and loses it completely.
What makes it downright terrifying however is the fact that we already know what’s coming next and the wait for that moment makes the tension all the more palpable. Also contributing to its menacing tone is its disorienting cinematography, employing extreme close-ups, high-angle shots & clever placement of camera to capture each n every minute detail concerning both his state of mind & immediate actions.
Also worthy of mention is its eerie score that works in tandem with its terrific sound design. Yet none of it amounts to anything if you take out Erwin Leder’s exceptional performance from the equation. Acting with a sense of urgency, Leder plays his role like a man possessed and his wild, unbridled & frenzied rendition goes well with his impetuous character. It’s an impressive lead show from the actor best known for his supporting role in Das Boot.
On an overall scale, Angst is crafted in the same vein as Henry except that it’s way more intense & unrestrained in its execution. Supplying a heavy dose of gruesome, unadulterated violence and powerful enough to affect even the most hardcore fans of the genre, this obscure, perverse & sadistic masterpiece is much deserving of a broader viewership but it’s definitely not for the easily distressed. One of the hidden gems of world cinema, Angst is one of the best psycho-killer films you will ever see. Highly recommended.