Monday, 2 December 2013

Movie Review: Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

A mousy English sound engineer comes to 1970's Italy to do the sound effects on a horror film. Life starts to imitate art.
Berberian Sound Studio (2012) Poster 
 Now I have wished to see this film for nearly a whole year now. This got so much praise in every independent film award in the UK. Even the UK's very own top movie critic Mark Kermode named it his film of the year. So does it measure up?.

To start with yes this is a British film but, it is a joint production with two other European studios. Now I like this idea, we Brits are making a fair few films now with joint production in Europe, its nice to see local film productions happening. This film revolves around a mousy shy English sound engineer whom is hired to do the sounds on a Italian horror movie. The movie is set in the 1970's which was the era of cinema famous for Italian low budget horror movies. These films tended to revolve round the unsettling ideas of witchcraft, satanism and rape. 

The film does a huge nod to the movies of this era. We don't see anything, instead we hear everything. You see, with Toby Jones' character been a sound man we just see the sounds been made and the vegetables used for various gruesome noises thrown aside into a bin rotting as a metaphor to what is on the projection screen he is seeing. We can really imagine the horror on the projection screen tho because Toby Jones just underplays it to perfection, he looks at the projection screen sometimes in horror as he is making the sounds its totally unsettling him. Now this film is not going to be for everyone because some people may want to see the horror for themselves, by that I mean "shock horror", like "Saw" for example. This film does it differently, seeing the reaction on Toby Jones' face and the look in his eyes, the sound of the vegtables (like carrots having their heads ripped off for the sound of witch heads been ripped off) and the audio lines been recorded, its up to us "the viewer" to picture it ourselves. Toby Jones is also like a Englishman whom is out of the water, so to speak. The Italians he works with, just have such a different outlook to life and the way they work to him. It sort of makes the character stand out even more and look even more shy and mousy, than he should be.
The whole production has a huge effect on our mousy friend it changes the way he sees the film, the last 30 minutes of this film alone has divided the internet on this film, with how he eventually sees this film and himself. The film has a brilliant claustrophobic feel to it, because it is set in a cheap sound studio all we see is dark drab corridors and closet like rooms. This drives the film even more into its idea of mild mannered man becoming something else, because these dark drab areas don't help the poor guys mind at all with the film he's seeing. This film for me really shines in the last half hour of running time. I have always been a fan of Toby Jones and this has to be the role of his career, his expressions his changing characteristics are just wonderful to see in an actor that never gets the notice or cred he deserves.

This film will not be for everyone. If you are a fan of Art-House cinema or like watching films that are so different, this is for you. If you prefer your horror with a bit more "shock" value, I don't think its for you. It is a wonderful, genius, refreshing and different cinema to the norm is this film. Director Peter Strickland is one British Director who is going places. If he carries on like this, he could be the Kubrick for this generation. By that I mean going against the rules and doing his own thing, movie making that he wants to do, just like Kubrick back in the day.
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