DVD: Berberian Sound Studio | Film reviews, news & interviews
DVD: Berberian Sound Studio
Toby Jones stars as diffident sound wizard sucked into a schlocky Italian horror film
Berberian Sound Studio has the quirky flavour of an academic treatise on shlock horror with lively slide illustrations. Peter Strickland’s claustrophobic homage to the Italian giallo – in which diabolical dismemberings are perpetrated upon female innocents - would seem an odd leap from Katalin Varga, his brooding revenge drama set in rural Romania. But both films bring an outsider’s all but ethnographic eye to the rituals of Euro-barbarity. The game changer is that Berberian Sound Studio is also funny.
A meek British sound engineer called, improbably, Gilderoy is hired by an Italian film company to deploy his wizardry in maxing up the horror effects on the soundtrack of a cheap flick about occultism. Fruit and veg are pulped and cloven, while in the sound booth specialist voice artists babble and howl in tongues. Being a mummy’s boy whose regular workplace is a garden shed, it’s not quite to Gilderoy’s taste, and his moral discomfort is compounded by the attitudes of his colleagues – chief among them an over-familiar producer and an authoritarian director.
As the diffident oddball loner, Toby Jones is perfectly deployed among an Italian cast featuring rugged men and ravishing women. At first his alienation is confined to language, but soon runs deeper as the atmosphere turns ever more vile and plays tricks with his mind. With half an hour to run, you may wonder where Strickland is going with this, and indeed those who saw it in the cinema and are still wondering can repair to this release’s extras for further elucidation. They feature a director’s commentary on the finished film and deleted scenes, and an extended documentary. A curio about the secrets of cinematic sound, see Berberian Sound Studio and you will never think of water melons in quite the same way.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart take on the CIA in a geeky action caper
Rousing Randolph Scott Western with a semblance of truth
Allusive meditation on creativity from banned Iranian director Jafar Panahi
theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top movies out now
Vivid documentary on resistance to Mexico's drug cartels hits home
Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell are the mistress and servant messing with each other’s heads in an airless Strindberg adaptation
Carey Mulligan sparkles but Thomas Vinterberg's Hardy is only a partial account
Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay shine in Andrew Haigh's wintry marital drama
Arch reimagining of a gruesome 1976 proto-slasher film of the same name
Finely formed tale of battling the odds from the director of 'The Page Turner'
Uneven TV travelogue from the maverick director
James Franco nears rock bottom in London-set thriller