Berberian Sound Studio

Upping the fear factor


BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (Peter Strickland) Rating: NNN


Berberian Sound Studio takes place almost entirely within the confines of the eponymous Italian recording facility, where a repressed British engineer (Toby Jones) has arrived to mix a bloody giallo called The Equestrian Vortex.

Writer/director Peter Strickland sets the story in the mid-70s, right around the time Dario Argento was finishing up Suspiria, and that film’s suffocating, oppressive sensibility is replicated here with lots of heavy breathing and shrieking (as looped by actors in sound booths) and flesh-squelching (as re-created by Foley artists stabbing watermelons and smashing fruit).

As our twitchy hero begins to come apart under the stress of the job, the movie replicates his crumbling state of mind by coming unstuck in chronology and language – sort of. Berberian Sound Studio evaporates like a bad dream as soon as the lights come up, but the experience is still worth having.

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