Thursday, November 12, 2015

Berberian Sound Studio (2013)

An intriguing little thriller about a meek, sheltered English sound engineer who accepts a job working on an especially disturbing Italian horror film, an experience which gradually begins to alter his perception of reality as he loses himself in the work of creating the soundtrack for the film's brutal, violent images.

The plot is a model of economy, conjuring up a real sense of dread and isolation in the claustrophobic little dubbing studio in which most of the action takes place. Unfortunately, after a strong first half, the interesting premise loses direction toward the end, which feels both protracted and rather confused. The fine character actor Toby Jones perfectly embodies the awkward, withdrawn sound man, who finds himself something of a stranger in a strange land, and slowly reveals aspects of his character, including hints of suppressed rage, that are at turns pathetic and sinister. Despite the problems with the ending, director Peter Strickland creates a thoughtful, dark character study made with a real attention to period detail and the genre conventions of the film-within-the-film, which should be especially appealing to fans of Italian giallo cinema.

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