Berberian Sound Centre (2012) – Film Review
Director: Peter Strickland
Cast: Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Hilda Péter
by Dan Berlinka
Peter Strickland’s already much lauded mix of psychodrama and cult film homage is likely to divide audiences. Those that dig the references and the meta-musings will lap it up. While those who prefer, you know, a story and stuff might think otherwise.
The photography, sound, design and cast (with a haunting lead performance from Toby Jones) all combine to create an unsettling atmosphere of creeping dread. But Berberian Sound Studio fails to capitalise on its most effective elements and leaves them adrift without much discernible plot.
It’s a shame, because it’s such a great premise and one that is worthy of a coherent and engaging narrative. Instead we get arthouse ambiguity surrounding what is real and what isn’t, which ends up feeling lazy rather than challenging.
Fans of 70s giallo will certainly enjoy the setting and the brilliantly pastiched title sequence to the film within the film. It will probably appeal to Lost Highway/Mulholland Drive era David Lynch admirers. But anyone looking for a more straight-forwardly gripping horror-thriller may well find the pacing too slow and the overall experience more frustrating than compelling.