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Berberian Sound Studio

Berberian Sound Studio

Released 31 August 2012
Director Peter Strickland
Starring



Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Cosimo Fusco, Susan Cappellaro, Layla Amir Eugenia Caruso
Writer(s) Peter Strickland
Producer(s) Mary Burke, Keith Griffiths
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 92 minutes
Genre Horror
Rating 15A
40

Needs a retake.

Anyone who has read my profile on Highbrowse will be well aware that in the “Not For Me” section it clearly stipulates mostly all horror films. Now, I'm not quite sure if I would classify Berberian Sound Studio as being in that genre per se but it is at least a parody of the niche Italian horror movie scene of the 1970s. While at times interesting, and for the most part engrossing, this stylish work just left me with a series of what, whys and hows – more specifically, how has it been garnering such rave reviews elsewhere?

After a British sound engineer named Gilderoy is invited to work on a gruesome horror film in Rome, he quickly becomes immersed in the psyche of the terror that surrounds him. Forced to do more than his job description, one which is outside of his comfort zone having previously only worked on children's programmes, Gilderoy alienates most of the fellow crew with his fumbling manner and nervous temperament. As the film's production becomes stagnated, his mindset eventually becomes one with the nightmare of the project he has undertaken.

Now, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have dared to stop watching this because even with its slow-paced movement you were always left with a psychological sense of anticipation. Where was this going to lead? What was the twist going to be? Surely, there's going to be a twist. Surely! Please! No, what the audience is left with is a never ending list of what-ifs and maybes. The film ends with no resolution and therefore very little meaning. Films that end abruptly are, for all intents and purposes, fine so long as it makes sense – with this, it reeked more of a case of the director and writer's (Peter Strickland) inability to conjure up a more gripping and satisfying conclusion. Instead, he chose the route of “well, this is art”. Hmm!

It's hard to present too many positives for a movie that needed, in my opinion, a substantial ending to give it credence. Actor Toby Jones was excellent as the nervous, lonely Gilderoy – a stranger in a foreign country absorbed in his peculiar job with a gaggle of intimidating, passionate people. But it's impossible to get past the fact that by the end you're wondering what all the fuss was about. Perhaps Berberian Sound Studio should just be added to my “Not For Me” list so we can move on.

- David Caulfield