Gilderoy (Toby Jones) is in charge of sound effects editing for Francesco (Cosimo Fusco) and Santini (Antonio Mancino) on a giallo film called The Equestrian Vortex. We never see it, but it sounds awful, and Gilderoy, a mild-mannered Englishman used to staid drama, is at his wit’s end as macho Italian men bully him and young women are hacked to death.

To enjoy Berberian Sound Studio, it helps to have an appreciation of Italian giallo horror films from the 1970s—the most famous of which are arguably those directed by Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci—but it’s not required. It also helps to have patience, and an appreciation for how sound effects are created.

Never before have beets, cabbage and watermelon been so ruthlessly murdered on film. And never before has it been so much fun to watch someone go mad for no good reason.

Such are the happenings in director Peter Strickland’s homage to horror sonics. In fact, audiences are so familiar with the sounds of heads splitting open they’ll probably be a little queasy from the effects alone, even though there’s no blood in Berberian Sound Studio. Nothing happening makes much sense, but then again, neither do most giallo films.

Written and directed by Peter Strickland
With Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco and Antonio Mancino
The Screen
88 min.