Very few directors have the visual style that Italian Master of Horror Dario Argento has, making him very unique as far as directors go. His movie a lot of the time push the plot of the movie to the backseat while the visuals in the film are brought completely to the forefront. Because of that his films are either your thing or they are not, as there is very little as far as middle ground goes with his films. Personally I think he’ s one of the most brilliant director’s of our time and deserves the credit he gets, and “Suspiria” is a big reason why he should be getting said credit.
“Suspiria” is the story of a young dancer from American coming to Europe to join a prestigious ballet school. Upon arrival at the school something seems to be off for her. The first night that she’s there a young woman is killed in the most grandiose of ways (which is one of the greatest opening sequences in horror film history) starting her stay there off with a bang. Then as time goes by she starts noticing a lot more strange occurrences in the house and goes through some pretty bizarre things as well. She eventually starts to figure out the equation and discovers that the ballet school is just a cover up for even stranger activity.
The thing about “Suspiria” to me that makes it so special is the fact that I don’t ever recalling another film that’s as visually stunning as this one is. The only other film that comes to mind to me that’s as unique looking as this film would be something like George Romero’s “Creepshow” with all of the colors used in the respective films. In “Suspiria” you get outstanding red’s and occasional blue’s used in the lighting scheme that really make the film something to look at. Not only that but there are some extremely stylish sequences in the film showing off the technical prowess that someone like Argento manages to have. It’s very impressive to say that least and although it may not be your favorite movie you will be able to see the technical mastery at work when you see it.
Another thing that I enjoyed about the film was the fact that Argento was at least attempting to make a frightening film here. There are moments in the movie that come off very tense and I always enjoyed just how disorienting the film has been. You as the viewer are not always clued in on what’s exactly happening which puts you in the shoes of the very confused main character. Thus in my opinion it makes even more of a connection with the lead and the audience of the film which I find to be extremely interesting. Not many films trust it’s viewer enough to do this and it’s always something that I thought set “Suspiria” apart from most films because of that.
Overall I would list “Suspiria” on my list with all time classic horror films. It’s original, it’s an outstanding technical effort, and it’s the film that showed just how creepy Italian cinema can be. I’ve always chalked it up to a painting that’s been managed to be brought to life that walks, talks, and moves right in front of your very eyes. Because of that it’s not just one of my favorite horror films, but it’s actually one of my favorite movies ever regardless of genre.
Reviewed by Ed Demko - 01/05/08