Angst ★★★★★

"The fear in her eyes and the knife in the chest - that is my last memory of mother."

As opening lines go Angst certainly has one of the best. Thankfully the brilliance of this film isn't just in its opening. Due to the films poor box office reception, Angst is the only film Gerald Kargl directed and it is a real shame because he could have gone on to produce some real classics.

Angst is about a murderer just released from prison who goes on another killing spree. There is little social commentary about rehabilitation or the harshness of society towards ex-offenders. No, as soon as he walks out of the gates of the prison he wants to kill again - there is no inner conflict at all and he seems content with the monster that he is. This film is one of Gaspar Noé's (the director of Irreversible) favourites and you can see how it has inspired his work both visually and in content. The two things that instantly hit you are the cinematography and the sound design. Zbigniew Rybczynski was responsible for the visual look of the film and he used a strange disorienting high shot for much of the movie. It provides the audience with a distance to laugh or pour scorn on this killer yet he flips it as soon as the action kicks in by placing us as close as possible to the killer which instantly stops making him a pathetic figure and makes him very disturbing. In isolation a lot of the lines he comes out with in voice over are darkly comic but half an hour in you struggle to find his words funny anymore. The intense sound design is also exceptional. The sound, which is unnaturally loud, has a gnawing rhythm like water torture whilst the '80s synth score evokes memories of Halloween (although it subverts it to make the music linked to the killers sexual satisfaction of his acts). There is a strange romanticism of the killer in American cinema but here there is no peverse satisfaction in witnessing the actions on screen.

Although other characters appear it is Erwin Leder's performance as the murderer that consumes the film. A bit like Jackie Earle Haley's performance in Little Children this character is terrifying and pathetic at the same time which is a very rare thing to see in movies. You see and hear everything from his twisted perspective but at no point do you feel sympathy for him - he is happy to play the monster even though he is rather poor at it.

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