Studio: Cult Epics
Theatrical Release: 1983 (limited)
Blu Ray Release: September 8, 2015
Director: Gerald Kargl
Review by Vidal Granandos
Angst takes you into the dangerous mind of a psychopath.
“K”(Erwin Leder) is an Austrian murderer who is released from prison after serving ten years. As soon as he gets out, his urge to kill again consumes him. Having no direction, he stumbles into the first coffee shop he sees. Upon entering the café he sees two beautiful women at the counter. Once the trio eyes bounce back and forth across the room, K’s imagination begins to run wild thinking of all the ways he could torture the girls. But this time he is determined not to be caught committing murder. He will find the perfect place to kill his next victims. After a scary encounter with a taxi driver, he finds a house. K breaks through the window only to be discovered by a man in a wheelchair and a dachshund. Realizing they serve no threat he inspects the household. Shortly after, the rest of the family begins to arrive home. “K” is both scared and excited at what’s to come next.
Angst is a German film loosely based on Austrian triple-murderer Werner Kniesek (Yes they talk in German so you will be reading subtitles the whole time). Leder does a terrific job of portraying someone creepy yet weak. K’s actions and thoughts are narrated repeatedly through the film while interrupting some quotes said during the Kniesek case in the dialogue. His face will be still in the eyes of his victim, but his mind is continually thinking of the next move. What his schizophrenic mind can imagine on what he wants to do is more twisted than his actions. The audience is always fully aware of what K wants to do next. There are no surprises here. Even when K is killing someone, his mind won’t shut up about what’s going on.
Zbigniew Rybczynki’s cinematography is the highlight of the film. His use of high angle shots, close ups to eyes and lips and long one-take scenes is something to admire. The fact that he had to find a way to get these complicated shots accomplished is incredible and aspiring cinematographers should watch this movie simply for the inspiration alone. Sure there are some slow scenes. For instants, the camera follows “K” for five minutes straight of just him walking without any cuts, music or narration. But when you realize how hard that is to accomplish especially back when the film was made, it is very impressive.
Klaus Schulze’s soundtrack for the movie deserves some praise as well. There are only two different songs that play during the film but both are impactful. One song is a low synthesize organ played during when a crime is committed. It’s eerie drowned out sound makes the crimes even more intense to watch. The other song has a drum and synthesizer playing together. The latter is very catchy and has a classic 80’s sound. This song begins to slowly play whenever “K” is on the move. It speeds up the tempo when the actor has to move quickly or act fast. Once “K” is in the clear, the song slows back down until there is silence. Again there are only these two songs. Other than that there is no background music. So once you start hearing these songs begin to play you know something sick is going to happen.
- Erwin Leder in Fear.
- Interview with Gerald Kargl by Jorg Buttgereit
- Interview with Zbigniew Rybczynski
These bonus features have interviews with actor Erwin Leder about his portrayal of the main character. Leder actually grew up in the surrounding of a psychiatric clinic because his parents worked in the medical field. Growing up in such an environment helped Leder feel comfortable with understanding how a mentally ill patient would think and move. Also including in the bonus features are interviews with the director Gerald Kargl and cinematographer/co-writer Zbigniew Rybczynski. Gerald Kargl is asked how he came up with the concept and why the film failed to gain attention. Unfortunately for Kargl, theaters weren’t willing to carrying such a violent film at the time. Rybczynski’s interview is far lengthier as he really goes in depths on how he was able to create such amazing shots. It’s his sense of detail that really gives this movie style, a pleasure to watch.
Also included with the blu-ray is a fantastic, high quality booklet. Detailed photos and interviews with actors and directors of the film is a nice touch even if they repeat some of what they said in the bonus features. Along with the interviews, they have article snippets from the “Kniesek case.” They show you the face of the killer Angst is based on with the articles translated to English. You get to read Kniesek’s actually quotes on why he wanted to kill.
I love that there is 3 different ways to start off Angst. You can watch it normally. Another way is with an introduction by director Gaspar Noe (Love) who was influence by Angst. He explains his passion for the movie (the title was Schizophrenia in France.) Lastly you can watch the movie with a prologue, which I highly recommend. It gives you more background story on the main character. It shows the viewer the murder he committed that got him thrown in jail along with his disturbing up-bringing as a child. It’s this added layer of depth that makes you understand how someone who was raised this way could act so violently.
It’s very unfortunate that Angst wasn’t a bigger hit and it has nothing to do with the film itself but rather the era the film came out in. It is never extremely violent or so grotesque that is unbearable to watch. In fact it’s pretty tame by todays standards. Yes there are plenty of slow moments during the film but the chilling parts come from the psyche of the madman and not the acts themselves, though they are pretty bad too. Angst deserves to be viewed by as many people as possible.