Berbarian Sound Studio: ‘A sound engineer’s work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art.’ – IMDB
Berbarian Sound Studio takes aspects from three of the most fascinating film genres currently in the popular eye. Though there is a lot to say about the film, technically, I’m sure that’s already been thought about, so this is my take of the film’s context – and my praising its innovative use of common genres and tropes to create an engaging and emotional film.
Firstly, the up and coming genre of films about films – which has been slipping into the mainstream since the ‘DSLR revolution’. These kind of films capitalise on the idea that people want to feel involved in the film, but often lack the tension of a more powerful narrative – making a film hardly ever has higher stakes than, let’s say, a war or a space mission – making execution paramount. That’s before considering your target audience likely knows more about film production than the average Joe. Berbarian Sound Studio uses the secret world of sound design to excellent effect; not only is it something a lot of armature filmmakers overlook, maintaining its mystery, but the exclusion of visual cues allows tension to build, and adds to the confusion created by the bilingual script.
The second genre is the modern derivative the B-movie: the film that knows exactly what it is, and sometimes pokes fun at itself – like the sequel to 21 Jump Street, that includes a credit sequence humorously outlining plans for the subsequent movies in the franchise: 23, 24, 25, 26 … Jump Street. This is the optional comic relief we’re offered throughout the film. Even in the tensest of scenes we are given the choice to step back and see the film for what it is; including one scene, in which Gilderoy (the sound engineer) refers to the film as a ‘horror’ to Santini (the director), which infuriates Santini, who goes on to say it’s ‘a Santini film’, not a horror. This gives us a second to question: is this a horror film?
The final genre is the psychological thriller. This genre comes into play only at the end of the film, and plays off the last; once we’re comfortable with what the film is, we’re forced to question where the film ends. Everything from the screams that are never real, to the way the film cuts between Gilderoy’s bedroom and the sound studio – tracking behind dark objects in one location and out from behind them in the new location, hiding the cuts completely – is done to blur the line between the world of the film and the film they’re making, and eventually between the film you’re watching and the world you’re watching it in.
I believe three genres build this film: the first lures you in, the second comforts you, and the third takes advantage of the trust built by the first two.