Angst tells the story of the deplorable Austrian serial killer Werner Kniesek. Angst, the movie, is infamous on its own merits too, slapped with an X rating, denied a release and was banned in most countries. It's a movie that bankrupted the director as well, he never made another movie after Angst which is a shame because for such a minimalist movie (the cast and crew involved barely exceeds a dozen) it really is a remarkably well made movie. We're introduced to the psychopath immediately (no name is given) as he's preparing to leave prison after fatally shooting a 70 year old woman. We hear him musing to himself about how easily he manipulated the prison psychiatrist by talking about flowers while he was fantasizing about all the pain, torture and murder he's itching to inflict upon the world the moment he's released from prison, all with a sense of pride too.
The camerawork is exceptional, it helps us understand his state of mind a little bit, as much as is possible anyway. The frenzy and fervor he's feeling as he's prowling the streets looking for victims the second he steps out of the prison door is palpable. Gaspar Noe has cited Angst as a big inspiration for his body of work and I can see the obvious influences of Angst in 'I Stand Alone' and 'Irreversible' especially. Angst is a short, but dreadfully disturbing movie because you know he's out for blood, and not just blood, but pain, torture and relentless brutality. You fear for the poor souls who happen to cross his path. Erwen Leder gives a truly horrific performance as the killer on a prowl, telegraphing his disgusting intentions by something as simple as gnawing on a sausage.
Angst is a character study of the worst kind of person, a psychotic sadist, vile and utterly repugnant. Surely the worst, most execrable sort of human being ever put on Earth. While some other cinematic serial killers have their own kind of charm and charisma, Patrick Bateman and Hannibal Lecter, this guy has no charming qualities whatsoever, he's weaselly, he's awkward and he's kind of pathetic, yet totally determined, remorseless and absolutely despicable at the same time. The murders are unflinchingly savage as well, it's not an aspect the director shied away from at all. It takes a lot to make me not want to see something, but I felt that way for almost the entirety of Angst, especially in one scene in particular. Such wanton cruelty.
Angst is not a movie I enjoyed watching and I do watch most serial killer and gore porn type movies, but Angst is very different, it's more real, more unsettling. The protagonist recollects his tough upbringing throughout the movie, in fact, the entire movie is practically a soliloquy from his perspective with very little 'real time' dialogue, this gives us a pretty extensive glimpse into his morbid and sick mind. This kind of presentation of him is bound to bring up the question that's still being debated to this day, 'are serial killers born, or are they made?' Not a movie I'd ever want to watch again, but when it comes to these types of movies, it's definitely one of the best, and also one of the most unfairly marginalized of the genre.
Written by - The Sentry - 27/06/2015