Suspiria

Suspiria ★★★½

Geoff T's Hoop-Tober 8.0 Challenge
Argento Double Bill #1
Suspiria (1977)

Dario Argento's Suspiria is one I've been somewhat hesitant to watch considering it's generally considered the complete apex of Italian horror, and I don't want to be blasphemous and say anything bad about it. Then again, I've dipped into Argento in the past and while I can say he's definitely a taste I've fully struggled to warm up to, I've still often found his work fascinating. Suspiria is much of the same in that respect.

Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) is an aspiring ballet dancer who has travelled from the United States to Freiberg, Germany to attend Tanz Academy, a prestigious dance school with a mysterious past. Upon arriving, the darker segments behind the walls of Tanz begin to rear their head as strange happenings begin to occur and individuals connected to the school turn up dead in horrible ways. Suzy then begins to suspect a dark conspiracy happening in Tanz that the school lumni suspiciously downplay.

As far as the performances go, they're hard to judge due to the English dubbing, which tends to be pretty awful at times, but Jessica Harper is most definitely a beautiful lead who carries the film. Much of this has been praised more for its visual style than it's narrative, and it's fair to say Argento's use of colour and lighting is definitely unique, with the film's heavy strobes of blue, green and especially red. I really dig the use of heavy rain in the opening sequence and the death scenes, while sometimes drawn-out, are creative and often quite horrific (ever seen a bloody knife protruding an exposed beating heart?).

There's not a great deal of context for the film's more bizarre set-pieces, which I guess you could argue is more of a positive. Complete with the use of colours and the score, it's almost like watching a bad nightmare unfold on screen. Meanwhile is the iconic Goblin score, which is most definitely quite brilliant, with its unique blend of synthesisers, guitars and tabla drums. However, I feel like there are times when it's too overbearing and repetitive, which does distracts from the on-screen proceedings.

It's certainly one of those movies that I respect more than I truly love, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy it for the unique experience that it was. I can definitely see where the appeal comes from, despite some elements that don't hold up as much. In the end, I've finally seen it and I like it more than I thought I would, which is a plus.

7/10

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