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Berberian Sound Studio

Release Year:         2012
Studio:         IFC Films
Format:         Colour; Widescreen; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
Running Time:         92 min. plus Bonus
DVD Release Date:         Dec. 10, 2013
Screenwriter:         Peter Strickland
Director:         Peter Strickland
Actors:         Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         8.5/10

IFC Films Write-up:
Mild-mannered sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones, The Hunger Games, Captain America) arrives in Rome to begin work on the soundtrack to a film called The Equestrian Vortex, a tale of witchcraft and murder set inside an all-girl riding academy. Before long he finds himself entranced by the film’s mysteriously terrifying allure, and the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur. Now Gilderoy’s own mind has become the battleground between his horrifying delusions and his desperate grasp on the real world. An electrifying portrayal of a man’s descent into the darkest pit of madness and featuring a tour de force performance by Jones, BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO is “a strange and beautiful homange to seventies horror films. See it–if you dare.” (Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine)

Commentary with writer/director Peter Strickland
Behind the Scenes
Box Hill Documentary
Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes
Photo Gallery (with Commentary)
Alternate Poster Gallery

Jon Ted Wynne Review:
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO is a truly unique film. Strange, beautiful, haunting and just plain weird, it will never have mass appeal, but it probably isn’t intended to. Rather it will interest fans of psychological horror, Italian ’70s horror, and techno geeks who will go gaga at the sight of so many obsolete Revox tape recorders and miles and miles of quarter inch tape.

The film also has at its core the wonderful Toby Jones, who is fast becoming a character actor with an awful lot of leading roles under his belt. His star turn as Truman Capote a few years ago in Infamous blew Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance right out of the water. Jones is wonderful here (as he usually is) and draws the viewer into his increasingly distorted mental state with consummate skill and subtlety. This is no mean feat considering much of his screen time consists of adjusting sound levels, looking perplexed at the odd assortment of people around him and reacting in growing discomfort at the images for which he is recording horrific sound effects. Wisely, we never see the footage for The Equestrian Vortex, the fictional film Jones is sound-scaping. The constant shrieking, screaming, stabbing and bludgeoning sounds are like a cacophonous symphony of horror. Images would diminish their effectiveness. Filmmaker Strickland well recognizes the power of the audience’s imagination.

The film is full of eccentricities, from voice artists who babble incoherently to a near parody of the self-important Italian film director who considers himself an artist (“don’t call my film a Horror Movie!”), to a strange set of letters Gilderoy receives from his mother that seem to portend his fate. Jones tries to take it all in stride but his discomfort is established from the get go when he fails to received reimbursement for the cost of his flight to Italy. Clearly a fish out of water, despite his considerable reputation as a sound artist, Jones fights an uphill battle all the way.

The extra features provide little in the way of insight, apart from the director’s commentary. Even so, BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO is a difficult film to sit through twice. It’s worth seeing, however, for the strangeness of its setting and particularly Jones’ performance.