TIFF 2012 Day 6: Berberian Sound Studio & Here Comes The Devil

By @cj_prin
TIFF 2012 Day 6: Berberian Sound Studio & Here Comes The Devil

Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio is very much a movie about movies. In it we follow Gilderoy (the excellent character actor Toby Jones), a sound man who accepts a job offer in Italy on a giallo slasher. Its 70s setting helps put the focus on Gilderoy’s analog sound work which requires some creative ways to get desired sounds. All we see of the giallo film is a psychedelic credit sequence but there are plenty of times where we watch Gilderoy stabbing cabbages, pouring hot oil on a pan or blending tomatoes to mimic the sounds of the heinous acts we aren’t able to see. Eventually all of the fake brutality gets to Gilderoy, and he slowly becomes unable to tell the difference between the film and his own life. Strickland uses plenty of tools to show Gilderoy’s feelings of alienation (there are no exterior shots) and loosening grip on reality, but the results are a mixed bag. Some sequences, like one where Gilderoy is mimicking sounds of the night, are executed beautifully in a way where it’s hard to tell what’s real and fake. On the other hand, Strickland makes a big mistake by subtitling all of the Italian in the film which, since Gilderoy can’t speak a word of the language, doesn’t give us the same feeling of confusion or alienation that he has. By the end Berberian Sound Studio dives right off the deep end with a moment similar to Bergman’s Persona, but its abrupt ending doesn’t make for a conclusion that’s too fulfilling. Berberian Sound Studio is definitely unique with some wonderful moments that nail what Strickland is going for, but it’s too uneven to be something truly great.

RATING: 7/10

Berberian Sound Studio movie review
Berberian Sound Studio

Next up was Here Comes The Devil, a US/Mexican horror film that left me feeling baffled after its screening. It starts off with a graphic sex scene between two women which ends with a machete wielding madman trying to murder one of the women before fleeing to a mountain. Suddenly the focus shifts to a vacationing family who let their son and daughter go hiking up the same mountain. The children don’t come back but are found by the cops the next day. The parents soon notice that their kids seem very distant, and when a check-up at the doctor reveals that the daughter doesn’t have a hymen the mother assumes that they were sexually assaulted by someone. Of course things aren’t that simple, and soon enough the mother starts to believe some sort of evil presence is involved while her husband takes the usual ‘skeptic/rational’ role. At the beginning of Here Comes The Devil I wasn’t enjoying the cheap and cheesy execution. The thing was shot on what looks like a poor DV camera, the compositions were laughable with their extreme close-ups and similarity to comic book panels, and the aggressive sound design was grating. But as it went on I started to warm up to director Adrián García Bogliano’s weird methods. His use of quick zooms and shoddy special effects felt like they came straight out of a student film, but the story kept the film going at a nice momentum. Towards the climax I even started to warm up to some of the absurd framing, but it wasn’t strong enough to salvage too much. Here Comes The Devil may be awful a lot of the time, yet I can’t deny its power at keeping me invested throughout.

RATING: 6.5/10

Here Comes The Devil movie review
Here Comes The Devil

NEXT UP: I take on Thomas Vinterberg’s seemingly divisive The Hunt and try to not get seasick while watching Leviathan.

Recap of some of my Tweets from today:

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