Reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s early paranoid classics, like 1965’s “Repulsion” and 1976’s “The Tenant,” as well as Italian giallos (in particular Dario Argento’s 1977 “Suspiria”) Peter Strickland’s horror thriller plays like the audience is watching someone’s nightmare. It’s rare to watch a horror movie that is primarily about sound – more specifically, sound mixing – but it’s precisely that specificity that makes “Berberian Sound Studio” stand out. The film itself slowly unravels its mysteries while recalling earlier classics, gradually ratcheting up the tension until the audience is at the edge of its seat. Toby Jones makes for a perfect leading man here, capable of being both milquetoast and vaguely unhinged at once, like an impostor in a hostile work environment who gradually unfurls. It’s worth watching for serious horror fans, as well as functions almost like an advertisement for the technical work of sound engineers, calling to attention the importance and precision of sound work in all films, but specifically horror.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)