Posted on 9/04/12 05:09 AM
Paying a certain homage to early low-budget horror flicks, The Berberian Sound Studio is the latest film by the acclaimed Peter Strickland, taking us into the heart of watermelon-smashing sound effect production. Venturing into the intimidating atmosphere of an eerie sound studio, we are introduced to the timid Toby Jones, who immediately becomes a victim to the piercing personalities of the crew members and the discriminatory language barrier. The genre of the film is soon unravelled to the character, through a dark, satanic opening credit sequence, immediately causing anxiety and regret to seep in, as he begins work on the 'vegetable slaughtering' sound effects.
This premise takes time to come into it's own, with the first half of the film full of a worried shots of our protagonist. Getting into scraps and beating himself up, only to return to yet more vegetable butchering. Although this builds up suspense in an oddly enticing manner, it also provides for a deeply frustrating, repetitive film experience. As the film continues however 'the plot thickens' becoming a lot more intriguing, throwing different ingredients into the mix to provide for an unpredictable climax. However these ideas never seem to stop reproducing, resulting in the film over-complicating itself, displaying a wide plethora of possible plot directions, but never picking a route. Theories are listed in your brain only to be thwarted by a nonsensical anticlimax, choosing a route previously unexplored. This wouldn't have been a problem if it wasn't for the insufficient amount of detail and information surrounding the ending, making it almost indecipherable to the audience.
Despite this over-complication there was a strong underlying, universal feeling of intrigue regarding the conclusion. Eyes were unable to prise away from the screen, due to unexpected technical and physical factors.
Something to be expected of from a film named after a vital aspect of film, is a quality soundtrack, with daunting 'sfx' to match, and while the soundtrack doesn't display the most conventional of anthems, it is certainly compelling. With the majority of soundtracks interpreting the surrounding effects of whirring film reel's and the splattering decapitation of fruits. Sound plays a huge part in this film in order to contrast scenes of innocence into something a lot more sinister.
Toby Jones conveys a character who is all to relatable, nervously entering the country unable to speak a word of the native language. As he becomes visibly intimidated by the dislike able crew members, we develop an unexpected attachment to him, as we cling onto our last hope of familiarity.
This film undoubtedly screams with artistic flare and integrity, producing some truly awe-inspiring cinema. However it's bizarre prominent apprehension to develop, provides for an initial bore of an experience, it's only until the climax is approached that the film becomes truly enthralling. A disappointment, after The Berberian Sound Studio displays glimpses of a masterpiece.
70%- An aesthetically beautiful treat for the senses, despite it's convoluted plot.