Suspiria (1977)

suspiria poster

Editors Note: I feel it necessary that I originally wrote this in April of 2007. That was nearly 16 years ago. I have seen Suspiria many times since then and my opinion of it has only grown.  I mostly stand by this review, though the writing makes me cringe a little (and I don’t think the acting in most of Argento’s films are bad, don’t know where that thought came from).  But I haven’t changed a word.

Petit and pretty Suzy Banyon flies from New York to Germany to attend a prestigious dance school. The night is dark, mysterious, and lonely, and it is storming with great torrents of rain. Upon arriving at the school, she finds the door locked, and the woman on the intercom refuses to let her inside.

Soon another woman comes to the door, not to allow entrance, but to flee. She looks greatly frightened, and shouts something to unknown persons behind the door, then runs out into the night and rain.

Shortly thereafter, we see a brutal, bloody, completely awesome murder at the school, complete with a knife stabbing directly into a heart, via an open chest, and the coolest hanging this side of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

When Suzy returns the next day she finds everyone distraught over the murder, but much more welcoming than the previous night. She meets the rest of the dancers, and things begin to settle into normalcy. For a moment anyway.

On her first day of class, Suzy falls ill and is forced to become nearly bedridden and given a very special diet. Strange footsteps are heard outside her door every night, maggots fall from the ceiling, bats fly in through the window and more murders pile up. Is there a mass murderer on the loose, or is it something more sinister, more mystical?

The film is beautifully shot, with the lighting causing all sorts of creepy shadows while being bathed in primary colors. Mostly red.

Lots and lots of red.

The score, by the group Goblin, is full of creep and circumstance and sets an eerie mood throughout.

Unlike a lot of Dario Argento films, the acting here is pretty good. All of the leads do a fine job of conveying the right amounts of suspense and dread, or menace and evil, depending on what their characters call for. The plot is pretty thin, as it jumps about quite a bit. Despite what the tagline says, the last 12 minutes veer well into the ludicrous instead of terrifying, but for what the film lacks in these details it absolutely nails in terms of setting a mood and atmosphere.

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