Bea’s Short Reviews: Suspiria [1977]


A tremendously violent, utterly technicolour nightmare about ballet and witches from Dario Argento. One of the things I have always admired about Argento, at least in reference to most of his earlier films, is how he combined highbrow art forms with the basest plots of murder, startling acts of violence and outlandish intrigue.

In the film which would cement his career aesthetic, Suspiria, we travel along with young American ballerina Suzy who has arrived in Munich, Germany to be part of a prestigious ballet school. Upon her arrival during a dark and stormy night, she briefly crosses paths with a distressed female student who flees the school in a hysterical panic, her words muffled by the tempest raging outside, but it’s clear the young woman is frightened of something. Something unseen, something powerful and something absolutely nothing of this world.

Simply put, Suspiria first and foremost thrives on visuals and practically every frame oozes stylish, almost fever dream-like beauty in the same measure of blood. Every sequence is a portrait painted in fantastical phantasmagoria. Argento is telling a highly stylized visual and aural tale of terror complete with an atmospheric soundtrack by Goblin which has become soundtrack of horror legend, full of whispers, woodwinds and electronica. Although the film has been met with valid criticism against it’s lack of logical story telling (and to a lesser extent the acting competence of some of the cast), the best way to view the movie is as it was intended to be, an experience for the senses, it overrides that point which, in other films, would have dragged the entire piece down.

Suspiria, to this day almost forty years onward, remains one of the ultimate sensual horror feasts for your senses, an invitation, an evocation of a higher power, unfolding in front of you like a horrifyingly beautiful flower of blood and radiance.


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