Arriving on a wave of critical acclaim, Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio hits UK DVD and Blu-ray at the end of the year. A homage of sorts to 70s Italian horror, it stars Toby Jones as Gilderoy, a mild-mannered Brit who takes a job as a sound engineer on "The Equestrian Vortex", a potentially questionable piece of Italian art and/or exploitation cinema. Events become increasingly sinister, and then surreal, as Gilderoy becomes troubled by his part in the production.
As the film made noise on the festival circuit, a duo of positive reviews on ScreenAnarchy saw Kwenton Bellette conclude
that the film was "an absolutely dark treat for the unchallenged mind"
whilst Kurt's positive take
called it "
a rare breed of creeping horror and certainly not for all audiences."
I'm less enamoured than my fellow ScreenAnarchy scribes, finding Strickland's movie technically fascinating but ultimately soulless and frustrating. A meticulous homage that cleverly articulates the cinematic modes of a bygone genre, but also suffocates under them. I admire the film's ambition, but rather like Amer
, I didn't feel connected to it, or in any way frightened by it.
Consciously dangling sensory carrots under the nose in favour of narrative logic may well comment on the genre Berberian Sound Studio
reveres, but it doesn't translate to a puzzle that entices. I was perpetually reminded of the sheer exuberance and unique pleasures of the original giallo pics. That may sound unfair, or indeed redundant, given the film's post-modern raison d'etre, but frankly I'd rather have been watching "The Equestrian Vortex".
As Kurt suggested, it's a movie that will (and already has) split people, but is nonetheless worth seeking out. It's just not one that's easy to recommend.Berberian Sound Studio is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 31st December through Artificial Eye.
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