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Berberian Sound Studio

Directed by Peter Strickland

UK, 2012

Cornerhouse, 31 August 2012

Berberian Sound Studio

A subtle study of dark seduction and mental derangement, that’d be a fair enough summation of Peter Strickland’s film.

Toby Jones gives yet another fine performance, this time playing a fellow who travels to Italy to do the sound effects for a film about witches returning from the dead, seeking revenge for all the torture that went on during the Inquisition.  While in dear old Blighty, all he’d done was a nature film or two.  It’s a culture shock he experiences in Italy, and no mistake.

There’s a visceral dimension to it, despite the fact that – while all manner of atrocities are heard, suggested or related indirectly – we never actually see any footage of the witches’ film.  Most of what happens is left to our imagination, and actually that’s why Berberian Sound Studio works so well.  The imagination has no censorious constraints.  And at times you can almost smell the sulphur and feel, beneath your fingertips, the grit of diabolical dirt.