Suspiria

Suspiria ★★★★★

Suzy (Jessica Harper) travels to Freiburg, Germany to attend ballet school. When she arrives, late on a stormy night, no one lets her in, and she sees another student fleeing from the school.
When the student reaches her apartment, she is brutally murdered. The next day, Suzy is admitted to her new school, but has a difficult time settling in. She hears noises, and often feels ill. As more people begin to die, Suzy's curiosity begins to overwhelm her, placing her in great danger.

Suspiria is, in my opinion, the greatest horror film of all time.
Granted, this is my own personal opinion and nobody else is forced to share it, but Suspiria foregoes the trappings of some horror films, such as an overly convoluted plot or boring death scenes, in favour of creating a grandiose spectacle that combines a phenomenal soundtrack and sumptuous visuals to create a non stop, eye catching marvel.

Feeling more akin to a visual album than a traditional film at points, thanks to a simply phenomenal soundtrack courtesy of Claudio Simonetti and Goblin (Who used their musical talents in service to Argento many times), Suspiria moves forward with the tempo of a great rock opera, building and building to a crescendo during which everything, including the very environment that Suzy is trapped in literally burns to cinders.

Those looking for a deep, complex plot will come away disappointed, as the film is more interested in the mystery than any explanation. The actual explanation scene (Courtesy of the always great Udo Kier) feels like it's desperate to give the answers and get back to the carnage, and honestly? It's the best decision for the film.
This is a film of style and spectacle, not deep philosophical questions and navel gazing pondering.

Dario Argento's direction here is razor sharp, combining simply gorgeous colour textures with some genuinely uncomfortable scenes. Suspiria is so full of colour that everyone I watch it I despair at the volume of horror films that feel monochromatic by comparison. The colour does not simply serve to look pretty, either, it enhances the dark fairy tale atmosphere that drips throughout. Suzy feels like a child out of her depth in a fantastical situation for most of the film, which is also very clearly intentional.
The script, by Argento alongside Daria Nicolodi (My personal favourite scream queen of all) also reinforces the fairy tale mood of the film, and the sporadic nature of the violence ensures that when these moments of carnage do arrive, they are infinitely more shocking. A scene involving razor wire alongside a scene featuring a man and his dog remain some of the most genuinely shocking moments in horror for me.

Some may disagree with me, but I feel that Suspiria is and always will be the high benchmark of horror. A genuine masterpiece of both visual and audio beauty that will never be matched, especially by any modern horror films. I'd be very surprised if that ever changes.

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