Angustia [Anguish] (1987)

Director: Bigas Luna
Writer: Bigas Luna, Michael Berlin
Cast: Zelda Rubinstein, Michael Lerner, Talia Paul, Àngel Jové, Clara Pastor, Isabel García Lorca
Part of: /slash Filmfestival‘s Slashing Europe

John (Michael Lerner) lives with his psychic mother (Zelda Rubinstein). He works for an eye doctor and is obsessed with eyes himself. So he starts hunting down the eyes of the city, fueled by his mother’s strength.
Sitting in the cinema, young Patty (Talia Paul) can barely stand to watch John’s killings on screen. Scared out of her mind, she’s growing paranoid and just wants to leave.

Anguish is qualitatively speaking a B-movie at best. But Zelda Rubinstein and Michael Lerner are pretty good and I loved the meta-level the movie jumps to.


I didn’t know anything about the film before going in. I didn’t even bother to read the plot description. So I was positively surprised by the meta level that suddenly popped up (and then we even went one level father down the inception road). I really did enjoy that. It combined two rather unexciting and clichéd stories into something new and interesting.

At the same time, the movie does suffer a little bit from the B quality. I do appreciate crappy films and I do think that they have their value, but with such an ambitious concept behind the film, I would have liked it to be a little better acted at least, especially in the second level.


Because in the first level, with Michael Lerner and Zelda Rubinstein, the acting was just right: hammy and overdone it hits just the right notes for their part. It was pretty damn perfect.

I generally enjoyed myself during the film. It’s not only two horror films rolled into one, but it’s also a nice look at (horror) movie audiences. Haneke might have made more succinct point in Funny Games, but Anguish has its own interesting perspective.


Summarising: Despite it’s shortcomings, it’s very much worth a watch.


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