July 27, 2015

Movie Review: Angst (1983)

Some movies you can prepare for, some you can't. The majority of mainstream type movies that target the wide audience, the summer blockbuster, are easy to get ready for. They may be big, brash, and entertaining, but they are not necessarily going to be challenging. Obviously, this is not always the case, but I think you know what I am saying. On the other hand, there are movies that challenge you, not necessarily intellectually, but your emotions, your sanity, perhaps even good taste. They leave you in a dark mood, perhaps disgusted, horrified, unsettled, even if you have seen it before. The movie I just saw is this latter type.

Now, I have never seen this movie before, but on my way out of the theater, I likened it to seeing Maniac. There is a movie that I can watch, but am never quite prepared for its effect on me, another would be Cannibal Holocaust. It does not matter how I approach the viewing, how I get ready for it, I know how I am going to end up. You can now add Angst to that list. This is not a happy movie, if the title did not already give it away. This is a movie that left me feeling a bit grimy, a little dirty, and certainly unsettled. I like it.

The Austrian film was first released way back in 1983, I have no idea what its reception was, but it was a different time, when filmmakers can take chances, make darker, grittier films and not worry about shaking up the status quo. A time when B-movies did not mean Sharknado, it meant something else entirely. I miss those times and I wasn't even keen to them until this century. It was directed by Gerald Kargl, it was his only feature. He also co-wrote the film with Zbigniew Rybczynski. The result is a movie that you may not like, but will certainly evoke a reaction.

At the center of our movie is an unnamed psychopath played with a certain degree of creepy malevolence by Erwin Leder. We follow him as he walks down a street, up to a door, knocks, and when an old woman answers he says “I'm shooting now.” and proceeds to shoot her dead. Shortly thereafter he is caught and imprisoned for ten years. There is a lot of voice over describing his troubled childhood and how he came to be like this, or at least what could be considered factors in his sadistic tendencies.

The main part of the movie picks up with his release. He may have done his time, but he is not cured and his desires for torture and murder kick right back up. He ends up at a secluded house where a young woman lives with her old mother and invalid brother. This is where you just need to sit back and watch as his madness consumes him. It is not pretty, it is rather realistic and it just eats away at you. While I can watch movies like this, trying to fathom that something like this could potentially happen.... well, it just puts you in a bad place.

Angst does not have a lot of dialogue, most of what you here is the psychopath's internal monologue. He goes over his upbringing, his relationships, things he's done, things he wants to do, all of which is not all that pleasant. For the majority of the movie, you are forced to be within the killer's mind, it is unrelenting and has a cumulative effect the deeper down the rabbit hole that he goes.

Besides the unsettling narrative, there is some fascinating technique. One of the things I absolutely loved was the camera work. The only way I can figure is that Erwin Leder was wearing some manner of harness rig with the camera on it. It seemed to follow his movements, but was also able to swing around for these different angles and camera movement. I am not sure exactly how they did it, but it was rather ingenious and helped bring the movie to another level.

I am not saying that Angst is the best movie I have ever seen, but I really liked it. It puts a certain darkness right in front of you and presents it in a way that you cannot escape it. There are cuts to police investigation or anyone else, you are kept in the presence of evil.

Angst is a very good movie. It has a lot to offer from a narrative standpoint and from a technical standpoint. It is dark, foreboding and takes you on a deep dive into madness. It is not a movie for everyone and it is one that I am sure will have a lasting impact if I should watch it again. It is one of those movies you cannot fully prepare for. You have been warned.

Highly Recommended.

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