October Horror doubleheader #1
Hey all! I hadn’t watched any horror this month, so to catch up I’m trying to watch two films a day, preferably movies I haven’t yet seen. I signed up for Shudder to help me along, and yesterday I started off with Angst (1983) and Hush (2016).
Angst (1983) dir. Gerard Kargl
This Austrian thriller comes with a history of controversy and a devoted cult following. It is considered a predecessor of films that look unflinchingly at serial killers, like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Funny Games. Unfortunately, Angst doesn’t hold up nearly as well as either of those films. It opens with a long explanation of the history of its protagonist, a man who has just been released from prison and who immediately sets out to kill again. As he terrorizes a family, we hear his nonstop internal monologue, as he uses his present-day murders to find release from the traumas from his past. It’s all profoundly heavy-handed; as he commits a murder, he describes precisely the event or person from his past that he blames for making him do it. Angst lacks both the gravitas to simply be about the horror it depicts (like Henry succeeds at doing) and the wit to provide some sort of insight into the killer’s mind without being relentlessly on the nose. Extremely disappointing.
Hush (2016) dir. Mike Flanagan
In this indie horror film from earlier this year, Maddie (Kate Siegel) a deaf writer living in a remote, woodland house, is terrorized by a masked stalker (John Gallagher Jr.). Hush feels at first like a conventional home invasion thriller, with the characters going through the expected motions of the genre. We know the beats well at this point: the introduction of the villain, the standoff, the heroine making questionable decisions regarding self-preservation, the villain’s hubris leading to his downfall, supporting characters bumbling into their doom, etc. Two-thirds of the way into Hush I was ready to accept it as a decent movie that I’d not likely revisit again. But then, the last act propels the movie into a breathless finale that gets deeply inside Maddie’s head as she faces the extreme likelihood that she won’t survive the night. Hush doesn’t reinvent the genre, but the script (written by Siegel and Flanagan) finds its footing beautifully in the last act, and the film charges into its conclusion on the strength of its characters and story. Despite its imperfections (even at 81 minutes the story still spins its wheels at times) Hush is a surprising and genuinely suspenseful film, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.