Berberian Sound Studio Review

Movie: Berberian Sound Studio
By: Orlok
Date: May 28, 2013

Hearing is seeing

Peter Strickland's second film is a psychological thriller / horror set somewhere in the 1970's where foley artist Gilderoy (Toby Jones) is hired to work in an Italian sound studio. A film you must hear to see it.

"Berberian Sound Studio" is not your ordinary horror / thriller. The only things that end chopped up are vegetables. It's all about suggestion en psychological horror.
Gilderoy (Toby Jones) is flewn over to work as a foley artist and sound engineer in an Italian studio. Having previously worked on documentaries on British nature and countryside, little did he know he is now going to work on a violent giallo-like horror.

Berberian Sound Studio

Creeping under your skin

What was supposed to be a routine job turns out to have more effect on Gilderoy than expected. He is clearly out of his comfort zone with the hot headed Italians, the horrific film he's working on and troubles with sound recordings that plague the production; the language barriers are a problem, actresses get fired while rerecording dialogues and foley artists get ill. All this doesn't improve the mood of those trapped in the studio trying to get this thing done and so the tension heightens.
The fact we see hardly any daylight in the film itself, only the inside of the sparingly lit studio and Gilderoy's temporary apartment adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere that is so prominent in this film. Slowly this starts to affect the psyche of the timid sound engineer: reality and fiction melt into one.

Berberian Sound Studio


Peter Strickland made a brave move by focusing on an often underestimated aspect of filmmaking: sound. This film not only gives us a glimpse of what effort is needed in creating the right soundeffect for the right scene. We see Gilderoy put vegetables in a blender, chop vegetables into pieces, squashing melons just to get the sound of chopping a person to pieces or someone hitting the ground with a violent splat.
It also manages us to unsettle the viewer purely by sound alone. As we never see real footage of "The Equestrian Vortex" -apart from the opening credits- the viewer does get to know what Gilderoy is seeing day after day through summaries of the scenes by producer Francesco. And it ain't pretty. But while tension grows and Gilderoy get more absorbed with the film he's seeing on a daily basis it is a bit of a shame it doesn't lead anywhere in the end and falls a bit flat.

Berberian Sound Studio


"Berberian Sound Studio" is a very well crafted film with a strong focus on sound design and editing, both during the making of "The Equestrian Vortex" as "Berberian Sound Studio" itself. Also there are several references to the famous Italian giallo films for the fans of the genre: like the operator whose face you never see and Suzy Kendall billed as 'special guest screamer'.
Toby Jones is perfectly cast as the shy and timid foley artist who suddenly has to operate in an environment that is far from his own comfort zone. The only way he has some contact with the outside is through writing letters to his mom and even those are getting a little bit more morbid.
"Berberian Sound Studio" is a unique film that uses an almost flawless combination of directing, editing and sound design to draw you into a dark sound studio world that consists of record, rewind, repeat; numbing operations that start to wriggle into your mind. Add the horrific footage (that we never get to see) and the hellish screams the actresses deliver in the studio and you have great, atypical psychological horror film with a haunting atmosphere.

Official site: Berberian Sound Studio (facebook page)



Berberian Sound Studio


Berberian Sound Studio


Peter Strickland






Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou and Susanna Cappellaro