Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Dario Argento directs the original version of the chiller starring Jessica Harper as a new pupil beset by murder and evil at a ballet school that is a coven of witches. Also starring Joan Bennett.
Based on the 1845 essay ‘Suspiria de Profoundis’ by Thomas De Quincey, Suspiria is another landmark film in terms of the horror genre and is also the first is Dario Argento’s ‘The Three Mothers’ trilogy, to be proceeded by Inferno and The Mother of Tears.
The story of Suspiria concerns Suzy (Jessica Harper), who journeys to Germany to go to ballet school. When she reaches the destination, late when very bad weather is occurring, she is refused entry, and she spots Pat (Eva Axén), another student, going on the run from the school.
When Pat shows up at her building, she is killed. The next day, Suzy is acknowledged to her new school, but has a hard time trying to concentrate. She hears sounds, and often is not feeling very well. As the number of people perishing goes up, Suzy finds out about the horrifying enigmatic past of the place.
Jessica Harper gives a very good performance in her role as Suzy, a new student at the school who finds it very hard to settle into the place for a number of reasons, most notably due to the noises that she keeps on hearing. She will soon discover the horrifying truth that the school has, making it very uncomfortable for her. Harper suits the role of Suzy very well, making the most of the time she has on the screen.
Elsewhere, Stefania Casini and Flavio Bucci both give respectable performances as Sara and Daniel. Sara is the young girl who Suzy forms a bond with, while Daniel is the school’s blind pianist.
Alida Valli is decent as Miss Tanner, one of the school’s instructors, while there is a very solid supporting performance to be had from Joan Bennett (in her final film role) as Madame Blanc, the head of the academy and she acts like she is in charge. She suits her role really well and ended her career on a really big high.
The direction from Argento is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout while also keeping a really tense atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a decent standard by the director and Daria Nicolodi as they make the movie easy to follow.
The technical aspects that stand out best are the set and camera, because the set is terrific to view throughout, while the camera makes good use of the locations and also captures the tense and dramatic moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status, sometimes in a disturbing way.
Although some of the film can be uncomfortable at times due to the scenes of gory violence, these are part of the story so they have to be included otherwise it would make absolutely no-sense whatsoever.
Overall, the original version of Suspiria is one very decent and spine-tingling horror with Suzy Harper good and Joan Bennett excellent. Dario Argento is on fine form here as well.