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Suspiria (1977) - Movie Review

Steven - AV March 22, 2019

Though we have the forty-years-later remake from the director of Call Me By Your Name, we’ve also recently acquired the shorter, brighter, stranger original from famous horror director Dario Argento. In Germany, an American ballet student named Suzy (Jessica Harper) arrives at a dance academy at night in the pouring rain. She’s turned away until morning, while another girl sprints away from the academy, seemingly unaware of the storm. As the other girl is found gruesomely murdered and Suzy begins to stay at the school, an atmosphere of unease permeates the place. Workers stare blankly from a distance. Others die. Maggots fall from the ceiling, as if the whole school is rotting from the inside out. There are whispers of witchcraft.

 

It’s a loud, overpowering movie, awash in kaleidoscopic colors and set to a hissing, guttural score from Italian prog rock band Goblin. Intentionally (and quite successfully) nightmarish, the film lingers on its chase and death scenes with glee as it cultivates an atmosphere of paranoia purely through sound and image. Deaths inexplicably come at the hands of knives and wire, but there’s always a sense someone is watching from the camera placement, the movements, the decisions to slowly brush over a random object. Suspiria suffers from a general lack of buildup that makes the tamer scenes feel even more perfunctory since the plot as is barely makes sense.  They’re like a drowsy, unwelcome haze of daylight before returning to sleep and the nightmares that come with it. But as nightmares go, Suspiria isn’t an easy one to forget. Overall Grade: B+

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