‘Dare you enter’
Berberian Sound Studio is a 2012 British horror film written and directed by Peter Strickland. It stars Toby Jones and features a low key soundtrack by British alternative rock band Broadcast.
In the 1970s, a middle-aged British sound technician named Gilderoy (Toby Jones) travels from his home (where he still lives with his mother) to Italy to work as a foley artist on ‘The Equestrian Vortex’, a gruesome supernatural giallo horror movie in the tradition of the works of Mario Bava, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.
Intimidated by Elena (Tonia Sotiropoulou), the studio’s stunningly beautiful secretary and harassed by the film’s brooding producer Francesco (Cosimo Fusco), Gilderoy’s perceived nightmarish task slowly takes over his psyche, driving him to confront his own past…
For about an hour, this is a fascinating close-filmed study of obsession, claustrophobic conditions (the studio, the hotel) and the machinations of the Italian film industry. Then, it goes nowhere. Simply nowhere. And thus leaves a bad vibe that makes you feel Strickland and Co. are simply mocking their audience with an ill-considered premise that lacks substance.
The cold cynicism behind Berberian Sound Studio made me want to watch even the most contrived trashy Italian giallo again just to experience a decent plot.’
Adrian J Smith, MOV!ES and MAN!A
Like Amer, Berberian Sound Studio is a film informed by the mechanics of Italian horror, be it giallo or more supernatural tales. And like Amer, this is not really a horror film itself, but rather a film that uses elements of the genre to create its own little universe.
The two films have one other thing in common too – both are a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes – ultimately empty exercises in pretension that far too many people will mistake (or excuse) as art; vacuity disguised as profundity.
David Flint, MOVIES & MANIA
“Jones, Strickland and the cinematographer Knowland brilliantly capture the hermetic atmosphere of a place where it’s impossible to tell day from night. A pervasive mood of exploitation and corruption seeps from the films being made into the relationships between everyone involved in their making.” The Observer
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described the film as ‘seriously weird and seriously good’ and said that it marks Strickland’s emergence as ‘a key British film-maker of his generation’.
“Berberian Sound Studio is able to shift at ease from humour to the ludicrous and then to the bizarre whilst maintaining the decorum of its surroundings. An expertly realised idea, shows that. Strickland is definitely one for the future.” Ill Bomb
“Strickland’s formative explorations into the sonic potential of celery have paid off handsomely for Berberian Sound Studio, a film in which watermelons, radishes and cabbages are routinely abused, and the inquiry, “Is there any fresh marrow?”, carries sinister connotations.” Uncut
Buy soundtrack: Berberian Sound StudioAmazon.co.uk