Suspiria (1977) Film Review

Director: Dario Argento

Writers: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi, Thomas De Quincey(book)

Stars: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci

RATING: 4.5 Stars

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Suzy Bannion travels to Germany to perfect her ballet skills. She arrives at the Tanz dance academy in the pouring rain and is refused admission after another woman is seen fleeing the school. She returns the next morning and this time is let in. She learns that the young woman she saw fleeing the previous evening, Pat Hingle, has been found dead. Strange things soon begin to occur. Suzy becomes ill and is put on a special diet; the school becomes infested with maggots; odd sounds abound; and Daniel, the pianist, is killed by his own dog. A bit of research indicates that the ballet school was once a witches’ coven – and as Suzy learns, still is – From IMDB

Some of the most striking and interesting visuals I have ever seen in a film, Suspiria definitely is not a film that will appeal to everyone’s’ tastes. I watched it with a friend, and she hated it, for all the same resins that I absolutely loved it. So we had quite a discussion once the movie was over. It’s bloody, gory, a little artsy, and a bit surreal, all the things that make so many horror movies, or movies in general, from this era so interesting to watch. I went in expecting these elements and did not leave surprised. My friend on the other hand…not so much.

The plot takes a long time to get going, the first half of the film is really al build up and speculation. And I am not entirely sure I even grasped the finer details of what was going on, but it’s safe to say that you have to stick with it, and give it a chance to get to that pivotal third act where things are explained and wrapped up…well for the most part anyway. And that might be my favourite thing about the film. That so many things are left utterly ambiguous and open to speculation. Everyone that watched the film will then get something different out of it.

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The lighting is one of, if not the most striking thing about this film. Filling the entire shot with vibrant reds or greens, that are so garish and offensive that they shouldn’t work, but they do. They are great at setting a tone or an emotion, this films use of colour is something that will stick with me, and something I intend to do further reading on.

An excellent performance by Jessica Harper really is the lynchpin in this amazing film. Without her, the film just wouldn’t work as well. As well as the tyrannical and sometimes chilling performances from the actresses playing the dance instructors, this film is full to the brim with amazing female performances.

Yes the story is slow, and yes, the seventies practical effects leave something to be desired, but it all adds to the charm of the film. This may be a new favourite horror film of mine.

‘Suspiria’ is currently available to stream free on Amazon Prime Video.

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