"Then there's an Austrian movie, Angst. It's about a man killing a family just in order to go back to prison, where he felt better. It's like a very dark, European version of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, but much more baroque in its filming. It was banned all over the world - even in France it was one of the last movies to be X-rated for extreme violence. I think it's going to be rediscovered everywhere in the next few years."
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer done with a style reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky or the 1969 Czech film The Cremator.
Gaspar Noe's Clean Shaven.
Angst successfully escapes the boarders of being merely a horror film, creating something far more interesting to watch and talk about. With a liberal use of disorienting angles and interior monologue, filmmaker Gerald Kargl - who sadly could never afford to make another film - puts the viewer inside the head of this deeply deranged individual. Erwin Leder grounds his performance hard in a prison of uncontrollable fantasies. This film doesn't go for scares or thrills, it aims to give real motivation behind unexpected tragedies that come from undiagnosed mental illness.
You've probably already decided if you would even be interested in seeing such a film. It's not a button-pusher aiming to plunge cinema to new depths. There isn't a specific moment where it's more comfortable not to watch. The whole thing is either going to fascinate you or make you regret watching. The worst individual act happens in the film's only time jump. The rest of it plays out seemingly in real time, another effective lesson cribbed by Gaspar Noe. Also, like with Enter the Void, the strict adherence to the real time aesthetic plants some sizable lulls into the film, especially after the main attack. (Unlike Enter the Void, this film is only 80 minutes.)* * * MILD SPOILERS/TALKING POINTS AHEAD * * *
Going real time is one of many fascinating decisions. It begins with Leder's character getting out of prison for a previous murder. He was never diagnosed with a mental illness and quietly served his time, so nobody is aware that his urge to kill hasn't faded one bit. He can hardly wait to begin killing again. (It's like other prison films where the guy gets out and immediately wants to have sex.)
The constant monologue fills in the psychological backstory. While he is in the middle of an attack, he will tell us about some past crime it reminds us of, further showing his emotional distance from his actions. The attack itself is extremely unplanned. He keeps abandoning weapons and victims, all the while getting angry at the mess he's making of his opportunity.
The camera likes to float above the characters. (Gaspar Noe fans will recognize the technique.) Sometimes Kargl uses that trick where the camera is mounted on the actor, giving a feeling of dislocation from their surroundings. Only the angle isn't straight on, but again slightly above and to the side. As if God is having trouble keeping an eye on him.RATING: * * * 1/2