People embrace the enchanting glow of the big screen for all manner of reasons; to journey to faraway places they could only ever imagine, to experience the escapism of a captivating story, or maybe to indulge in an obsession with the world of cinema. For me, all three of these reasons apply - and many more - but first and foremost is the satisfaction of recommending obscure films to other like-minded individuals who adopt them as their new favourites.
With over 100 years worth of films to choose from, and many of these now available at the click of a button, it can be extremely difficult to narrow your choices down to pick a film to watch. Although cinema has been around for over four times longer than my life on this earth, I have spent what some may consider an unhealthy amount of these years delving into the history of films to discover some of the best hidden gems out there.
This series of articles aims to highlight the overlooked masterpieces that I have unearthed whilst exploring the forgotten recesses of cinema. Take a gamble on any one of these films and I guarantee that you will be eagerly awaiting all future instalments in this series. You may well have heard of a number of these films; my aim isn't merely to shine a spotlight on the most obscure films out there, but to share my enjoyment of those films which don't have the cult following I believe they deserve.
Angst: ' a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.' The feeling of dread and anxiety you will experience when watching Gerald Kargl's masterpiece will undoubtedly leave even the most desensitised viewers unsettled. Angst is Kargl's only feature film, and what an incredible film it is, portraying the brutal, murderous rampage of a twisted killer in a style that left an indelible mark on extreme cinema. Gaspar Noe (Irreversible, Enter The Void, I Stand Alone - also featured in this series) cites Angst as a huge influence on his oeuvre and his films certainly come close in matching the intensity and raw horror of the sickening events that are depicted in Angst.
An under-appreciated landmark in Austrian horror cinema (perhaps the only landmark!), Angst follows the events of a deranged serial killer over the course of two days as he embarks on a series of violent and unprovoked attacks on the innocent people he encounters. The violence depicted is bloody and savage - a cruel display of the worst aspects of human nature. This may be shocking to behold but its true power lies in the craftsmanship of those involved. What could have been a lowbrow B-Movie transcends into the realm of a horror masterpiece thanks to the director's artistic prowess. The seemingly frenzied yet meticulous camerawork and excruciating but hypnotising long takes offer a glimpse into a savage world that is rarely displayed with such appreciation for the cinematic medium. The intensity of the violence is matched by a nerve-shredding soundtrack that claws its way under your skin and exacerbates the relentless nature of the on-screen carnage.
Angst passes by at a breakneck speed - and its short runtime is necessary for a picture of such ferocious barbarity – two hours of this cruelty would be too much for most to take. Its grim exploration of a psychopath’s existence sidesteps the exposition for any of his motivations and shoves the viewer straight into a barrage of frantic and disturbing sequences. For this reason, those with a nervous disposition should steer well clear of Angst but those with a thirst for the darker side of cinema should seek it out immediately, as it will not disappoint.
Erwin Leder’s portrayal of the nameless killer is incredible to behold. His character’s cold, evil glare transforms into an intense excitable stare when he acts on his violent impulses, taking pleasure from the suffering of others and clearly relishing the pain he inflicts on his victims. All of those who fall foul to his nefarious ways appear genuinely terrified and rightly fearful for their lives. These enthralling performances heighten the sense of realism, making the graphic depictions of violence even more shocking.
It is rare for the impact of horror films to not diminish over time. The advancement of techniques used within the genre; the gradual cultural shifts that leave past fears behind, and the constant attempts of horror film directors to push the boundaries of acceptability all play their part in disrupting the expectations of a modern viewer. Angst has somehow managed to avoid the common pitfalls of a horror film that is thirty five years old and remains a confrontational, provocative, and horrific experience that should not be missed.
If you take the time to watch Angst then it would be awesome if you could also take the time to let me know what you thought of it, either by commenting below or tweeting me @filmbantha. Thanks, and enjoy!