Director: Peter Strickland
Screenplay: Peter Strickland
Starring: Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Susanna Cappellaro
Producers: Mary Burke, Keith Griffiths
Running Time: 92 min
BBFC Certificate: 15
Strangely, even though I’m not sure I ever watched the trailer for Berberian Sound Studio or read a description of its plot, I found myself massively excited about watching this ever since I heard it announced about a year ago. I think it was just the way it was described as a stylish homage to Italian giallo, a genre I’m really getting into these days which often suffers from dated production techniques and lazy writing. With a talented young director and modern know-how in its favour, this modern re-working sounded like my sort of thing. Plus the early buzz was very positive and Toby Jones is generally worth watching.
What is especially impressive then is that the film not only exceeded my expectations, but turned out to be more than just a flashy rip-off of Italian thrillers from the 60’s and 70’s.
Berberian Sound Studio opens in 1976 with Gilderoy (Toby Jones), a British sound engineer, arriving in Italy to work on “The Equestrian Vortex”, the latest ultra-violent horror movie from the maestro Giancarlo Santini (Antonio Mancino). The director is rarely on set though, with Gilderoy largely working with Francesco (Cosimo Fusco), the film’s producer. Although he and the rest of the crew seem full of admiration for Gilderoy and his unmistakable talents, relationships begin to fray and the Brit struggles to stay sane as the horrors on screen get too much for him and the cultural differences and insensitive behaviour of Santini turns Gilderoy’s time in Italy into a living nightmare. Wrapped up in his work at all times, the line between fiction and reality begin to blur for him and the film grows more surreal as it moves towards its twisted climax.