Peter Strickland

Berberian-Sound-Studio

Italian giallo films have made something of a quiet comeback recently. Restored blu-rays of Dario Argento and Mario Bava’s films are inviting renewed considerations of the genre outside the canonized Suspiria, and Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Amer presented a dedicated contemporary revisitation of the genre. Now consider British writer-director’s Peter Strickland’s sophomore feature Berberian Sound Studio, a densely atmospheric and wonderfully bizarre journey into the increasingly fevered mind of a sound effects engineer of an Italian horror (but don’t call it horror!) film in which is the film itself is never actually seen, but only heard.

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berberian

It might sound kind of weird to try to set a thriller in a sound design studio, what with their being the domain of nodes, dials, tech geeks, and whatnot, but that’s exactly what writer/director Peter Strickland has done with his new thriller Berberian Sound Studio, and various FSR reviewers seem to be in agreement that the results of this experiment are gorgeous and intriguing, if not a little bit befuddling and empty. The consensus seems to be that it’s a solid B-. If you want to catch a glimpse of what everyone is so interested in and confused by, as well as a taste of Toby Jones being innocuously creepy like only he can, and some insight into how they make all those gross wet noises for slasher movies, then follow the link and watch the film’s new trailer below.

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There are many aspects to making a film – the actors, the script, the director, the music – but there is another aspect many people forget about: the sound mix. The process of combining an actor’s dialogue and the music with the ambient noises and sound effects is an art in its own right, but when doing so for a film filled with murders and hauntings, this process becomes all the more compelling and off-putting. The Berberian Sound Studio is located in Italy, and English sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) makes the trip to help create the mix for a pulp film from the eccentric director, Santini (Antonio Mancino). On the surface, a man coming to a new country may seem like a story about learning from different cultures and their various creative personalities, but the narrative takes a decidedly sinister turn when the sounds Gilderoy is creating for the film seem to follow him from his recording sessions into his actual life.

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Berberian Sound Studio

The moment that the closing credits started to roll for Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio I looked to my right to tell my colleague that I don’t think I’d ever sat through a horror picture and felt absolutely nothing. Not until then, anyway. I think my heart pumped more in saying that sentence than it did at any moment watching the picture. I don’t know if that was the intention of the movie. I also don’t know if it was intended for the movie to be considered a horror movie. It’s a movie about the making of an Italian giallo film, but it more closely resembles a Lynchian psychological thriller. Only without the thrill part.

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