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December 28, 2013

Movie Review: Berberian Sound Studio (2012, IFC)

Some of the finest horror films - or films for that matter - have a handful of pertinent things molded together perfectly to make them a solid moviegoing experience. For me, one of those main components that can literally make a movie terrifying is a well done soundtrack. John Carpenter comes to mind mind as someone who has used this skill in that department to his advantage. Of course the earlier films of the great Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red) and his frequent collaboration with the talented group, Goblin, also show how great it is when it's done well. Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio makes some interesting homages to some of the better Italian horror films of the 70's and 80's fo and has an interesting story on post-production sound and how it effects the characters in the film. Is it enough though?

Toby Jones (Captain America: First Avenger, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) plays Gilderoy, a quiet, lumpy English sound engineer starting again on a production for a horror film in Italy about witches. Nervous and seemingly out of place around the voice actors and other crew, Gilderoy has unenviable task of working with an ego-maniac director, Giancarlo Santini (Antonio Mancino). Gilderoy gradually starts to lose his sanity from the tension experienced in trying to complete this project -- one that he’s not too thrilled with to begin with. Berberian Sound Studio, has horror elements, but it really is more about the behind the scenes of a horror film. Some of what is shown is enjoyable to see, like the techniques on how music and dialogue is recorded to sync up with the film and even some interesting foley work that includes splattering watermelons and stabbing honey dew melons for death scenes.

This is definitely cool for a little bit but it really doesn't feel like it's enough for a full feature ; maybe a 30 minute short or a part of an anthology it would fly because there are some interesting things here. Strickland is without a doubt a talent, and this being his first feature could mean that he will just get better and work on the all important pacing issues. I would definitely check out any future work from him to see how he grows.

The DVD looks pretty solid overall. No complaints here in the audio or picture department. There are a generous amount of extra features on the disc:  a Behind-the-Scenes, Box Hill Documentary, Deleted/Alternate Scenes, Gallery, Trailer and an audio commentary with Berberian Sound Studio director, Peter Strickland.

Berberian Sound Studio isn't a bad movie, as it's definitely worth seeing if you’re a fan of Giallo and Italian horror films. What really keeps it from being great is the as mentioned above, snails pace. A lot of what made the films Berberian  Sound Studio pays homage to it also lacks considerably. This is probably renter.

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