Angst opens with a young man out-processing from prison. Through voice-over, we learn he’s committed murder and spent more than half his life behind bars. He exits prison, wolfs down a small meal in a diner, botches murdering a cab driver, flees in terror, and stumbles upon a secluded estate. He breaks in and terrorizes the inhabitants.
A brutal but intriguing watch. Erwin Leder convinces in a fearless performance as the unnamed psychopath. Violence comes in gruesome shots that linger. Zbigniew Rybczynski’s editing alternates between claustrophobic close-ups and detached crane shots. In an inspired sequence, we get a bird’s-eye, unbroken shot of the psychopath navigating across the estate with chilling casual ease.
I can’t say I’m eager to revisit this entry. Later films like Funny Games execute a similar premise with more panache and resonance. That said, the version streaming on Criterion exhibited annoying frame drops. I checked the version on Shudder and found the same. It’s not as noticeable early when the jittery camera work obscures it, but as the credits roll, watching the cars roll down the highway, you can see the judder. I fear the streaming file may be an upconverted 25fps PAL source encoded at 24fps. The digital print seems provided by Cult Epics. According to their site, the tunnel murder scene was “optically restored” which hints their source might have been from the original PAL DVD which darkened that scene, versus the original film negative. If anyone can shed light on this, please reach out.