Horror Movie Review: ‘Suspiria’ (Dario Argento, 1977) ~ let the colors be the darkness

Intrigue, drama, murder, music & haunting shades of red all come together in Suspiria, a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento that captures you the entire runtime through its eery atmosphere.

A gem to the genre, this horror movie doesn’t try to wake you up from your sleep through jump scares but creates a mood that makes you unable to leave yet you don’t even want to because the horror comes with beauty.

This tale that feels like a dark retelling of a Disney princess movie mixed with Black Swan and Puella Magi Madoka Magica centers around Suzy (Jessica Harper), an American girl who just arrived in Germany on a rainy night finds that through enrolling at a prestigious ballet school, she got more than what she bargained for. There’s something dark tormenting the people in the school. They just need to find out who it is, and maybe the now dead young blonde girl that she saw running away upon her night of arrival might have given her the key to unraveling the mystery. When the friend she made is murdered in a graphic way and strange vermin plague the school, Suzy decides to find out what is going on and finds the school has a history of witches. Why is the school still being haunted by one?

If you have ever seen a Tarantino movie, you will guess that he was influenced by this movie, at least when it comes to graphic scenes involving blood. The surrealistic portrayal of the graphic scenes make this movie both scary because everything is so unfamiliar and you don’t know from which corner the danger will come, but you can also keep your distance from it and realize you’re watching a movie. Everything from the Technicolor shots to the excessive acting make you realize this fact. The score (composed by Goblin) makes you feel dizzy, as if you’re laying on the floors of the academy waiting for the witch to devour you. Oh what wonders mood music can do. It compensates for the distance the surrealistic aspects have created because creepy scores make everything real.

The contrast between the vibrant colors, the empty personalities of all characters and the grim events make this movie truly remarkable. It doesn’t try to be scary. The school tries to hide the events and this movie tries to hide its horror which makes the movie even the more unsettling. The villain doesn’t really have a motive because the world is empty too. Bad things happen to people and you can’t ask anyone why. I wonder if that’s what Argento was trying to push or if he was just lazy in wrapping up the story.

Bad luck isn’t brought by broken mirrors, but by broken minds.

Suspiria was breathtakingly beautiful to the point that you forget you’re watching a horror but then the colors can’t fool you anymore and you’re dragged back into the red rooms of the dance academy haunted by the score that leaves you feeling tingly for hours afterwards.

I for sure hope I’ll never do my last pirouette in that school.

Final verdict: 4* 

P.S.

This movie is far from being forgotten. Suspiria is being remade and set to be released in November 2018. The movie will have the same title. It is directed by Luca Guadagnino and features an all-star cast consisting of Chloë Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson & Tilda Swinton. I’m very curious how they will translate Argento’s vision and though the movie doesn’t feel very dated (except maybe for how the actresses understood their character and acted) I’m curious to how they will transpose it from 1977 to 2018.

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