Anguish is the kind of film that manages to be exciting and frustrating all at once: exciting because it is packed to the brim with style and interesting ideas but frustrating because it never takes these elements far enough. The script's film-within-a-film conceit is an intriguing one but it takes too long for the plot within the theater to get going once this framing device is revealed and its elements are too hastily-drawn to be truly effective (no explanation is ever given for the origin or motivations of the copycat psycho in the theater). Quality of the characterizations varies wildly: the main characters in the theater's film are much more colorful and interesting than either of the teenage heroines or the copycat killer in the "real" story: Michael Lerner and Zelda Rubinstein both make larger-than-life impressions as the wild son-mother murderous duo but the other characters blend into the background. As a result, the second half of the film is much less interesting than the first half. Director Bigas Luna keeps the film's events rolling at a steady pace and shows great visual flair throughout (especially in the clever finale, where the events in the theater mimic those on the movie screen) but no amount of style or wit can make up for the story's inability to emotionally involve the viewer - which is the key to creating a truly scary horror film. Because of this, Anguish comes off as a little more than a visually ambitious slasher movie. The end result is clever and stylish enough to amuse veteran horror buffs but is likely to leave casual viewers cold.