Berberian Sound Studio

Berberian Sound Studio

Set in 1976, Toby Jones plays a documentary sound engineer who finds himself employed by a notorious low-budget Italian horror studio. Uneasy in his new environment and surrounded by a world he finds alien, he throws himself into his work, failing to notice how life is slowly beginning to imitate art. An homage to the classic Italian Giallos of the period, Strickland's film is another triumph. 3.8 out of 5 based on 14 reviews
Berberian Sound Studio

Omniscore:

Certificate 15
Genre Horror
Director Peter Strickland
Cast Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Cosimo Fusco
Studio Artificial Eye
Release Date August 2012
Running Time 92 mins
 

Set in 1976, Toby Jones plays a documentary sound engineer who finds himself employed by a notorious low-budget Italian horror studio. Uneasy in his new environment and surrounded by a world he finds alien, he throws himself into his work, failing to notice how life is slowly beginning to imitate art. An homage to the classic Italian Giallos of the period, Strickland's film is another triumph.

Reviews

The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

Berberian Sound Studio has something of early Lynch and Polanski, and the nasty, secretive studio is a little like the tortured Mark Lewis's screening room in Powell's Peeping Tom, but that gives no real idea of how boldly individual this film is. In fact, it takes more inspiration from the world of electronic and synth creations and the heyday of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and it is close in spirit to Kafka's The Castle or to the Gothic literary tradition of Bram Stoker and Ann Radcliffe: a world of English innocents abroad in a sensual, mysterious landscape.

30/08/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Robbie Collin

This is only Strickland’s second film after his (very fine) 2009 debut, Katalin Varga, and both times I have seen it, its vision, ingenuity and sheer gobsmacking audacity have blown me ten feet out of my seat. It is one of the year’s very best films, a great, rumbling thunderclap of genius.

31/08/2012

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Time Out

Tom Huddleston

The claustrophobia of the setting – we (almost) never leave one tiny recording booth – and the multilayered use of sound make for a richly unfamiliar viewing experience, reaching a stunning climax in one moment of wholly unexpected and effective avant-garde wrongfooting: a horror-movie shock in full reverse. But from there on, Strickland’s Lynchian ambitions begin to cloud the issue. The film doubles back, loops and comes unglued, and the climax doesn’t have the freeform psychedelic impact that the director clearly craves. The effect is deflating, almost fatally so: as the credits roll, the feeling is one of mild disappointment, even frustration.

29/08/2012

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The Times

Kate Muir

Jones is perfect as Gilderoy, a creature somewhere between his Percy Alleline in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Dobby the house elf in the Harry Potter films. Trapped in the studio, a brown study where there is no natural light, Gilderoy begins to find he is in a Kafkaesque nightmare.

31/08/2012

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Total Film

Jamie Graham

Crammed with detailed craft, its appeal is further widened by dealing in universal fears: homesickness, identity, mental health. If you love movies, you’ll love this – oddly, it makes a perfect companion piece to The Artist, doing for sound what that did for silence.

31/07/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Jonathan Romney

On one level, Berberian Sound Studio is a comedy of cultural misunderstanding about a sheltered Englishman lost among glamorous and tyrannical Italians. It's never quite clear how much Strickland is poking fun at British stereotypes of Italy: the altogether loathsome film-makers are forever leching after the actresses, proclaiming their artistry or bursting in to announce impromptu celebrations with prosecco. But it sometimes feels as if the film has a genuine xenophobic streak, in which case you wonder whether Strickland is channelling his own bad experiences in Europe.

02/09/2012

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

Strickland plays a canny game here. His feature debut, the brilliant Katalin Varga, was a harrowing folk tale of a woman's long-pondered revenge in Romania. Where that film was all about landscape and the outdoors, Berberian Sound Studio is a chamber-piece, set in a Kafkaesque warren of windowless corridors, anterooms and enclosures. The studio is a land unto itself, its ambience entirely mechanical, be it the sprockety whir of the reels, the atmospheric crackle of magnetic tape, the ghostly projection of recorded voices.

31/08/2012

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Empire Magazine

David Hughes

Anchored by a typically flawless performance by Jones, Strickland’s second film begins as an audio geek’s dream, before spiralling inexorably into the stuff of David Lynch’s nightmares.

28/08/2012

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The Evening Standard

Charlotte O'Sullivan

Most thrillers use short, attention-grabbing words in the banner. The three employed by Strickland are so dull that by the time I reached “sound” I felt in dire need of a siesta. How apt that the film itself is such an assault on the system, such an increasingly claustrophobic tangle of tingle-inducing shocks

31/08/2012

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The Scotsman

Alistair Harkness

The key thing here is we never see visuals we assume they’re accompanying: as Jones hacks away at sundry bits of fruit and veg, positions microphones over sizzling pans and boiling kettles, and fiddles around with equipment to maximise the screams of the film-within-the-film’s exploited actresses, Stickland provides a disconcerting reminder of the power of sound over the visual image. Here, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Brian DePalma’s Blow Out may seem like natural forebears, but as the film builds towards a fascinating, oddball and thoroughly ambiguous ending, these thematically similar – and enjoyably sinister – movies are also somewhat inadequate reference points for such a confounding and unsettling viewing experience.

30/08/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

If you sit through the final credits you'll read that Suzy Kendall, one-time wife of Dudley Moore, is listed as "special guest screamer". Kendall appeared in several 1970s horror flicks, most famously Dario Argento's seminal giallo classic, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

02/09/2012

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The Sunday Times

Cosmo Landesman

All that screaming of tortured women from the booth, the sound effects of squashed melons and butchered radishes, the bullying of his boss — well, it does something to a chap’s mind.

02/09/2012

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The Financial Times

Antonia Quirke

Hats off to the writing. Jones reads a letter from his aged mother back in Dorking largely on the subject of nesting chiff-chaffs, and asking “Good weather in Italy? I should think so.” I wonder if this letter is verbatim from something in director Peter Strickland’s possession, so perfectly of-its-time is the locution and grammar, and it strikes so touching a note you get the one real jolt of the movie: of complete love for home and outdoors, and everything non-cinema, and the terrifying inert quality of the fear that keeps us from removing ourselves from situations (or even films) we find intolerable.

30/08/2012

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The Daily Mail

Chris Tookey

The reasons for our anti-hero's derangement are largely unexplored - the notion that his repressions would crumble during the course of one job seems weirdly far-fetched - and the plot becomes anti-climactic and hard to understand in the final reel.

31/08/2012

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