Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
United Kingdom, 2012. Warp X, Illuminations Films. Screenplay by Peter Strickland. Cinematography by Nicholas D. Knowland. Produced by Mary Burke, Keith Griffiths. Music by Broadcast. Production Design by Jennifer Kernke. Costume Design by Julian Day. Film Editing by Chris Dickens.
Toby Jones is frustratingly opaque as a sound designer who arrives in 1970s Rome to create the audio effects for a giallo horror film being made by a shady director and his impolite crew. Upon entering the studio, Jones is thrust into a nightmarish underworld whose product is the least of the ominous threats he will encounter; between countless scenes of chopped vegetables and women screaming in booths, Jones is constantly trying to be reimbursed for his travel expenses from London and finds himself in an increasing web of vague denial.
Director Peter Strickland ups the atmospheric ante by never actually showing footage from the film Jones is working on, other than a brilliantly realized title sequence: the effect of this is to build up to a climax that never actually arrives, instead opting for a through-the-looking-glass Mulholland Drive trip that indulges only in aesthetic pleasures (the sound design and cinematography are truly superior) but no substance or mystery. Even the cult-loving midnight madness crowd might not be entranced by this one.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2012