“Berberian Sound Studio”, writer-director Peter Strickland’s love letter to unsung heroes of the big screen and Italian giallo, tells the story of Gilderoy (Toby Jones), a gentle sound engineer who is hired by a studio Italian filmmaker to work on a film he thinks is about horses, but which is actually a horror film called “Equestrian Vortex”. While working his audio magic on footage of bloody torture footage, Gilderoy begins to feel increasingly out of touch with reality, his sanity as flexible as the soundscapes he works with.
Peter Strickland is a far from conventional director and, appropriately for a film whose primary narrative motif is the power of sound, much of the horror in “Berberian Sound Studio” is either implied or obscured by blurry and sparkling images. The real terror comes from the doubled cries of increasingly frustrated and tormented actors, or the work of Gilderoy and his bored and useless Foley assistants.
Like everything that emerges from Strickland’s filmography, “Berberian Sound Studio” is a powerful, distinctive and memorable film piece that will linger long after the ambiguous final shot – which is good, because although there was a stage adaptation, no sequel seems to be coming.