Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
The Berberian Sound Studio is a very odd and creepy film about a meek sound engineer from England who goes to Italy to work on a low budget film. The first reason for his disconcertion is that the squeamish fellow, who's used to collaborating on nature documentaries, finds he's working on a horror film. His problems get a lot worse when he slowly realises there's a lot more happening in real life to add to his discomfort.
Toby Jones is such an underutilized talent, any chance to see him in a rare lead role should be snapped up immediately. He was unlucky that his astounding interpretation of Truman Capote was released after the celebrated Philip Seymour Hoffman version, and history is currently repeating itself as the HBO telepic where he plays Alfred Hitchcock to great effect is being overshadowed by the upcoming cinema release starring Anthony Hopkins. Here he is predictably fascinating to watch as his character fails to get a grip on all that confronts him.
British writer/director Peter Strickland made an impressive debut with Katalin Varga, a little seen gem filled with intrigue, style and great storytelling. There are some clever things happening here in Berberian too. Not surprisingly, given the title, the sound design is extremely effective and evocative, and the film is also visually very arresting.
For all it has to recommend it though, Berberian is way too bizarre for mainstream audiences and not gory or scary enough for horror/thriller fans.
Given it's limited appeal, a long theatrical life is not likely, so adventurous types should seize the opportunity to catch this at ACMI during it's two and a half week season. It really does deserve to be seen on the big screen and heard through a great sound system.