DVD review: Berberian Sound Studio (3 out of 5 stars)

This strange psychological horror movie has tended to split audiences around the world.

For some it is a cleverly crafted film that hones in on our darkest fears.

For others, it is a self-indulgent piece that seemingly goes nowhere.

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However, writer and director Peter Strickland has made a serious attempt at a horror movie that leaves the audience with plenty to think about.

He is helped in no small measure by using British actor Toby Jones in the central role.

Jones has shown in his wide range of small and big screen work that he is a fine actor, able to get the most out of any part.

He plays Gilderoy, an introvert but accomplished sound engineer.

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It is the 1970s and he takes up the job of providing and enhancing the sound effects for an Italian horror movie.

However, this project proves an extreme test of the his moral attitudes as the on-screen violence is a world away from his normal work - gentle films about the Dorking countryside.

Plus, he is very British, so the whole laid-back emotionally open attitude in Italy is also something he struggles with.

The result is that we see Gilderoy move towards madness.

But anyone wanting a defined ending will be disappointed.

Strickland’s intense direction harks back to the ‘art house’ movies of the 60s and 70s.

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Cleverly, he uses implied horror and the sound effects to create tension. We don’t see any of the on-screen violence but rather endure its effects via Gilderoy.

It’s certainly an intriguing piece of work that deserves scrutiny.

The DVD release has plenty of extras, including a long interview with Strickland which provides an insight into the thought processes.

Steve Payne

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