Sunday, June 8, 2008
Angst AKA Fear (1983)
Angst is a German language, English subtitled serial killer movie with flying, dizzying camera work, an impressive musical score, and explicit violence and gore, much in the tradition of films by Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci and other European horror masters. It is a relatively short film and wastes absolutely no time, clocking in at just 75 minutes. It takes place all in one day, and has one character, the killer, who speaks almost all the dialogue and narrates the entire film almost play by play.
It starts out with a very German-looking man in his mid-thirties being released from a large maximum-security prison. We come to find out through his narration this is his release date from a ten-year sentence for murdering a 70-year old lady. Before that he had served four years for stabbing his mother in the chest. Once the prison gates open, he sets out walking through town looking for more victims.
He winds up at an isolated house where he takes a family of three hostage and proceeds to torture and murder them in the most efficient way possible, his narration tells his life story. It is almost as if he is sitting in the room with you telling you his story over a few drinks. He tells of his early life and the physical and emotional abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of his mother and sister, his abandonment, and his ultimate discovery that his greatest pleasure was to inflict pain and fear upon other living things. He wants nothing more in life than to murder as many people as possible, and he will never stop doing it. The sense of power he feels when he does it is profound. For once in his life he feels total control over another human. Instead of being abused he is the one that is feared, hence the title Angst, which means “fear” in German.
What really made this a special film for me was the camera work. I could tell many of the shots must have used a tall crane. At points I could imagine I was looking out the window of a tall building watching the character go about his murderous tasks.
The kill scenes were quite cruel and realistic, and extremely bloody. The killer comments in the narration about how quick it all happened. There are only three victims, but keep in mind that this is only an hour-long movie, so it worked. It is such an engrossing portrait of what goes on in a serial murderer’s mind, I would actually recommend this to psychology students or anyone interested in real life serial murderers.
At the end of the film the credits roll, the killer finishes the story, and finally we hear one other voice. It is the flat voice of the criminal psychologist who interviewed and tape-recorded the killer’s confession of what went on that day. He explains that it proves the killer was aware of what he was doing, and should not be allowed the insanity plea. He recommends a life sentence without parole.
Angst is an impressive 1980s Euro-Horror outing with very high IQ. Instead of relying on shock value, it puts you inside the killers head. I felt sorry for him because right from birth, he never had a chance. He exacts his revenge on people who remind him of his abusive family. Like the avid horror movie viewer, he is addicted to fear, but he likes to cause fear rather than feel it.