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TIFF movie review: Berberian Sound Studio

4 out of 4 stars

Title
Berberian Sound Studio
Directed by
Peter Strickland
Country
United Kingdom
Language
English, Italian
Year
2012

A treat for fans of vintage horror cinema (in particular, the experimental giallo genre) and vintage sound gear, this stylish, darkly humorous thriller locks us in a claustrophobic studio in 1970s Italy for a paranoia ride. Arriving as a mid-production replacement, British sound engineer Gilderoy (the perfectly cast Toby Jones) – a bit of a fusspot but obviously gifted – is befuddled by the lively but oddly behaving Italian crew, and grows increasingly disturbed by his task of creating and recording sounds for an auteur-driven witchcraft film about students at a riding school. Director Peter Strickland brilliantly ratchets up the tension without showing a single frame of the grisly film, and instead feeds the imagination by showing us cabbages getting smashed, vegetable stalks being snapped, women doing scream takes in the sound booth and Gilderoy's horrified expressions, illuminated by the projector's flickering light.

Sept. 10, 6 p.m., Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Sept. 11, 2:45 p.m., Yonge & Dundas.

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