Warp X’s latest production Berberian Sound Studio received astounding critical acclaim when released at cinemas nationwide. Peter Strickland, the director of Katalin Varga, returns with a very different tale of an introverted sound engineer from the English suburbs and his assignment at a sleazy Italian post-production studio. Supported by Screen Yorkshire’s Production Fund (2003- 2010).
1976: Berberian Sound Studio is one of the cheapest, sleaziest post-production studios in Italy. Only the most sordid horror films have their sound processed and sharpened in thisstudio. Gilderoy, (Toby Jones –Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) a naive and introverted sound engineer from England is hired to orchestrate the sound mix for the latest film by horror maestro, Santini.
Thrown from the innocent world of local documentaries into a foreign environment fuelled by exploitation, Gilderoy soon finds himself caught up in a forbidding world of bitter actresses, capricious technicians and confounding bureaucracy.
Obliged to work with the hot-headed producer Francesco, whose tempestuous relationships with certain members of his female cast threaten to boil over at anytime, Gilderoy begins to record the sound for The Equestrian Vortex, a hammy tale ofwitchcraft and unholy murder typical of the ‘giallo’ genre of horror that’s all the rage in Italy. Only when he’s testing microphones or poring over tape spooling around his machines does this timid man from Surrey seem at ease. Surrounded by Mediterranean machismo and, for the first time in his life, beautiful women, Gilderoy, very much an Englishman abroad, devotes all his attention to his work.
But the longer Gilderoy spends mixing screams and the bloodcurdling sounds of hacked vegetables, the more homesick he becomes for his garden shed studio in his hometown of Dorking. His mother’s letters alternate between banal gossip and an ominous hysteria, which gradually mirrors the black magic of Santini’s film. An homage to the classic Italian Giallos of the period, Strickland’s film is another triumph.