Review Summary: Insidious.
British independent psychological horror film, Berberian Sound Studio
tells the story of a British audio technician named Gilderoy, who slowly loses his mind while engineering the sounds for an unseen Italian independent horror film; leaving audiences’ imaginations to go wild when putting visuals to the various morbid sound effects he creates through unsettling methods. While Gilderoy spends the film creating the sound for his assigned film, indie electronic band Broadcast provides the score for the film he is creating sound effects for, as well as the soundtrack to the journey of his deteriorating psyche throughout the process of doing so.
The Berberian Sound Studio OST
is music unlike anything Broadcast have ever created, and atypical as far as standard scores go. It’s a collection of very brief and unconventional tracks that resemble bizarre sound experiments more than actual music, which is befitting to the film’s central concept of the workings and methods behind making a movie. The soundtrack has a consistently reoccurring motif played on an organ that eerily resembles the Phantom of the Opera main theme. This motif is viciously warped, deconstructed, and blasted with stark noise and static throughout the course of the soundtrack; gradually becoming more and more twisted as the tracks progress, making for an intense build that never loosens its grip.
The soundtrack contains both the score from the actual movie itself, and the fictional film inside the movie, providing no clear distinction between what music is for what film and often times blending the two scores together into one track. It may seem like that would make the soundtrack very confusing without the visuals of the film itself to clarify which score is which, but the soundtrack actually massively benefits from the lack of clarity. With all the samples from the film, and the film inside the film unseparated from one another, it’s actually much more fascinating, unpredictable, and unsettling to hear the score without the movie to make sense of exactly what you’re hearing.
The sheer amount of horror and unnerving feelings this soundtrack is capable of conveying through audio alone is very impressive. A sinister overtone is cast from the beginning and only intensifies its suffocating atmosphere with each passing surreal noise cue and mysterious sample. There are also frequent instances of abstract whirring sounds that are reminiscent of the uneasy scores of the science fiction horror films of the late 60s' to 70s', another authentic touch that appropriately matches the era the film takes place in. Tracks like “The Fifth Claw” and “A Goblin” that are music-less recordings of bloodcurdling gagging, moaning, and yelling are actually more disturbing when heard without accompanying visuals, letting listener’s minds do the scaring as they create shocking images in their heads to match the sickening guttural sounds in their ears.
The Berberian Sound Studio OST
is a soundtrack different from any other score in how it completely disregards traditional aspects of soundtrack music, making for a very intriguing and creepy experience that proves that stand-alone sound can be equally as terrifying as visuals if executed as well as it is here, while also showcasing that Broadcast have no problem pushing their creative boundaries far enough to make something that shares absolutely zero traits with anything else they’ve created prior.