Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012)

What's it about? Gilderoy (Toby Jones), a timid British foley artist travels to Italy to oversee the sound effects for a satanic horror film. But as he recreates the soundtrack to accompany the gruesome images onscreen, weird things start to happen.



Is it any good? Most reviews of this make it sound like a horror film. And 'sound' is the appropriate word, as it takes a blackly comic look at the trade of a foley artist, that person who recreates the sound of violence for films in inventive ways. So, in the dark confines of the sound studio, a homesick Gilderoy pulps melons, stabs cabbages and rips radishes to create the sounds to match the onscreen violence, whilst bad actresses scream and scream again in the sound booths. But some off-kilter moments suggest all is not right and things get weird when he starts to lose his grip on reality (or does he?), leading to some uneasy sequences where things go a little, well, odd. Shot almost entirely in 3 rooms, the claustrophobia of Gilderoy's surroundings is palpable, which also increases the sense of unease. Then it all goes a bit mad and that's where it lost me. Comparisons have inevitably been made with David Lynch's output, but to me it seemed more like a skewed British version of Lost in Translation, in depicting the discomfort of a lonely Englishman abroad, a stranger in a strange land. In fact, given Gilderoy's pudgy face, language difficulties and questionable mental state, it could well be an account of Gazza's time at Lazio. No? Well, it's as valid an interpretation as any. Listen, don't expect it to make sense, but Jones gives a very good performance and it'll all probably stick in your ears for a day or two afterwards

I don't trust you. What do others think? Much acclaim amongst critics, appearing on Sight & Sound's Top 10 of 2012 and being named Film of the Year by Mark Kermode on Radio 5 Live, whilst the old-skool artistry of the sound engineer was briefly celebrated before everyone returned to their digital jiggery-pokery. General audiences have been less enthusiastic, disappointed by the lack of standard scares and baffled by the lack of explanation offered. For horror aficionados, though, it's a nice homage to movies from the Italian Giallo film genre, those messy, pulpy slasher films from the likes of Dario Argento and Mario Bava, which gained a cult following and some degree of respect, despite most of them not being very good. By the way,
the word "giallo" is Italian for "yellow" and has its origins in a series of cheap paperback mystery novels which were published in Italy with yellow covers. So now you know.

What does the Fonz think? Sounds good. Literally.





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