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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Angst (Blu-ray)
Angst (Blu-ray)
Cult Epics // Unrated // September 8, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $34.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted September 25, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Shot in Austria in 1983 by a first (And it turns out, only) time filmmaker, Angst immediately disappeared before it could even make a minor splash in any box office. This is not surprising, since the film is an extremely disturbing and raw look inside the mind of a serial killer. The closest similarity one can find will of course be John McNaughton's sickeningly realistic horror masterpiece Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Angst takes another step forward into the abyss and takes us directly inside the thoughts of the killer via voice-over as he commits his horrid acts.

It must have been an impossible film to market in 1983, and it's not an easy sell even during our more open-minded popular culture. The film is highly stylized and meditative, and the focus is on the psychological ramifications of the acts themselves instead of an exploitative approach, which might turn off gorehounds who might go into the film looking for a grindhouse slasher flick, only to emerge with a slow-burn and genuinely disturbing examination of the psyche of a killer who gets sexual pleasure out of the taking of another life.

The cinematography by Zbigniew Rybczynski (Who also co-wrote the film) sticks to a deliberate style where the camera hovers around the killer, lovingly named The Psychopath (Erwin Leder), during the entire film, almost like an evil supernatural presence. The entire story focuses of The Psychopath terrorizing and trying to murder a family living inside a house he comes upon randomly after a failed murder attempt. An American production would have taken care of the entire affair in a fast-paced manner, in about ten minutes of screen time, probably as a prologue to a bigger and more sensationalist serial killer movie.

However, Angst's slow pace is meant to disturb the audience more than a lot of other typical horror films does by showing the acts take place pretty much in real time. While The Psycopath is on the hunt, his voice-over constantly gives the audience information about his sick and demented past, never giving the audience a moment of escape out of the ugliness the film so efficiently recreates.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Angst is a deliberately ugly looking film, with faded and grotesque colors. The point is to create a tremendous sense of unease for the audience. In that way, the 1080p transfer does as good of a job as it can. Since this is an older cult film, it still has some scratches and dirt, and minor video noise issues like aliasing can be found. That being said, I'm sure this is the best Angst has ever looked. There was also a controversy with the previous DVD release where a gruesome murder scene was darkened. In this transfer, the scene is restored back to its original form.

Audio:

The dynamic score from Tangerine Dream's Klaus Schulze is the reason to put on the DTS-HD 5.1 track instead of the DTS-HD 2.0 option that also comes with the disc, since the music shows sufficient surround presence. The voice-over, which consists of almost all of the dialogue in the film, is clear and efficiently haunting in both sound options.

Extras:

Play with Prologue: Angst's distributor slapped an 8-minute prologue on the film that attempted to introduce the killer to the audience before the credits, in order to pad out the film's runtime. It's unnecessary, and I recommend watching the film without the prologue.

Introduction by Gaspar Noe: Noe sits in a car and talks about how he discovered Angst on VHS and became a big fan of the film.

Commentary Gerald Kargl: The director gives a lot of insightful information about the low budget production, as well as valuable info about the real serial killer case that inspired the film.

Interview with Erwin Leder: The lead actor not only talks about how he approached the role, but also goes into the psychology of people who kill for a thrill.

Interview with Gerald Kargl: Kargl talks about the production in detail during this 20-minute interview. Some of this information is covered in the commentary.

Interview with Zbigniew Rybczynski: In this kind of overlong 40-minute interview, the DP goes into the smallest detail about how he approached the story and the production.

We also get a Trailer.

The Blu-ray also comes with an impressive booklet with text interviews with the filmmakers and newspaper clippings from the real-life serial killer case.

Final Thoughts:

So, if this is a unique horror film that won't be attractive to neither gorehounds, nor art house fans, who is it for? The answer is in the first part of the previous sentence. Angst is a very unique film that will not leave your mind for a long time, and mainly because of that, it became a bigger and bigger cult favorite over time. If you're into films that can't be pegged into a specific genre, films that take major chances with styles and narratives approaches, than check it out. Whether or not you like it, you can at least say you've never seen anything like it before.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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