Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio marks his second feature film and while he may not have many films under his belt just yet, his latest effort proves that he’s going to be a force in the industry in the very near future. In the 1970’s, a British sound technician is brought to Italy to work on the sound effects for a gruesome horror film. His nightmarish task slowly takes over his psyche, driving him to confront his own past.
Where Strickland succeeds the most with Berberian Sound Studio is his brilliant use of sound editing that manages to find its way into the deepest and darkest corners of your mind, creating a true psychological slow-burn. Strickland shows talent way beyond his years as he injects an old-school flair into a wickedly original film that stays pretty solid up until its final act. Two thirds of the film does a fantastic job of burying you in its moody atmosphere as you watch Toby Jones’ Gilderoy slowly begin to lose his mind, which is great, except for the fact that the film loses itself as well.
Some of horror’s best films could be filed under the “slow-burn” category, but what separates the great ones from the rest is a payoff that is unforgettable. Berberian Sound Studio is most definitely a slow-burn but the payoff is underwhelming and quite frankly, boring. Strickland was really onto something with this vintage ride into paranoia. In the end, however, he just couldn’t reel the film in with its final act.
The glue that holds it all together is the always brilliant Toby Jones as he delivers yet another fantastic performance as Gilderoy. Jone is an underrated force in the industry and one that is an absolute blast to watch on screen. Berberian Sound Studio may have just missed the mark but it’s a interesting modern-day look into the world of old-school horror and will no doubt find many fans who enjoy a stylish claustrophobic film with an amazing lead in Toby Jones. Out side of that, unfortunately, there’s a lot to be desired as this is one that I wouldn’t recommend to a lot of people simply because it’s just not all that entertaining.
I can’t wait to see what Strickland does next because while this may only be his second feature film, it shows moments of pure brilliance. He’s a rising talent and one that I have no doubt will leave one hell of an impression in the horror genre. Trust me friends, Peter Strickland is a name you will want to remember.