Berberian Sound Studio

US release poster

Berberian Sound Studio 2012

Directed & written by Peter Strickland

Another film I’ve finally caught up with after too many years – once again, thanks to streaming service Mubi.

This sophomore directorial effort from British filmmaker Peter Strickland, is more a psychological thriller than straight up horror movie or drama and I unreservedly loved it. (So much so that I’ve included two posters).

With clear homage to Italian giallo cinema, this is the story of Gilderoy (brilliantly played by Toby Jones), a very passive and retiring British sound engineer, who comes to the sound studio in Rome to work on what he thinks is a film about horses, The Equestrian Vortex. Despite the director’s denials, he discovers very quickly the film is a classic Italian giallo, and is forced to work on some surprisingly gory soundscapes. Throughout, Gilderoy seems like a man out of place and very much out of his depth, and as the tension grows between him and the Italian filmmakers, his mind seems to unravel and the film appropriately left me asking more questions than it answered.

The soundscapes are wonderful, but the cinematography by Nicholas D. Knowland and excellent editing by Chris Dickens add extra dimensions to this tense and very thought provoking film.

Above all though, is an outstanding lead performance by Toby Jones, and it is worth watching just for him. He is the glue that holds the film together and conveys volumes of meaning with his face and body language, hammering home yet again the importance of ‘show, don’t tell’ in visual storytelling.

It isn’t for everyone, but if you have even a passing interest in the genre, I wholeheartedly recommend this gem.

UK release poster

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