Berberian Sound Studio

Gilderoy, a sound engineer, travels from the damp bucolicism of 1970s Surrey to altogether more sultry Italian surroundings to work on a film called The Equestrian Vortex.

Having presumed the job would be something to do with horses, he instead finds himself involved in a particularly lurid giallo film: a quintessentially Italian variety of horror-thriller.

Berberian Sound Studio is a deliciously self-reflexive film about the ways cinema constructs reality.

Gilderoy gives life to the macabre world of The Equestrian Vortex with expert technical skills, making use of mundane materials like lightbulbs and marrows.

As he becomes more involved in the project, the worlds of the film and the film-within-the-film start to seep into one another, and Gilderoy’s own abilities become a source of creeping disconcertion. 

Throughout Gilderoy’s labours, we never catch a glimpse of the film he’s working on. Instead, we only hear it – and witness Gilderoy’s increasingly immersed involvement.

Reflecting the way any film produces its own delineated version of reality, Berberian Sound Studio is palpably closed off. Its attention stays firmly trained on the recording studio and scarcely leaves its soundproofed walls – ensuring your imagination runs fearfully wild.

Peter Strickland’s film is a homage to 1970s giallo thrillers of directors like Dario Argento, as well as a sharp critique of the exploitative culture that festers around such films. 

But it is also a much wider fable, exerting a correspondingly far-reaching grip: a pungently atmospheric retelling of a story as old as Prometheus – a warning against the perils of human ingenuity, and a chilling depiction of the way we fall victim to our own brilliant inventions.

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