Angst (1983, Gerald Kargl)

Wow. I wasn’t prepared for anything this intense and realistic. Shaky follow-cam, extreme high and low-angle shots, extreme closeups and even the strap-on camera from Pi illustrate the adventures of a psycho killer released from prison and anxious to kill again. The filmmaker follows our man closely, obsessively – even the music is with him, speeding up intensely as he escapes from a failed abduction, then lowering tempo as his pace slows.

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Erwin Leder (Das Boot, Taxidermia) is amazing, creepy as “the psychopath.” There’s no arguing with that noun – all he thought about in prison was killing, and all he sees around him are potential victims. His beautiful plans of glorious murder come off disgusting and clumsy, as he runs around a wealthy household eventually murdering a mother and her daughter and disabled son, caught because of a car accident a half hour later with the bodies in the trunk. All of this is captured in real-time, with the psycho’s thoughts and plans audible (and hardly any spoken dialogue – none of the hostage-screaming to which we’re accustomed). It’s one of the most impressive feats I’ve seen in a serial-killer movie – the movie being engrossing and accomplished without imparting any of its glory to the killer himself, who remains a vile embarrassment.

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IMDB’s trivia insinuates that director Kargl does not exist, and is a pseudonym for award-winning writer/cinematographer Zbigniew Rybczynski, but an online interview with Kargl reveals that he only made one feaure, went deeply into debt, then directed commercials for years. So this is a one-off movie, and it’s uniquely wonderful (well, if getting inside the head of a psycho killer and watching him work is your idea of wonderful).

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