31 Days of Night: Suspiria (1977) – 8/10

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

Suspiria (1977) Drinking Game and Podcast | Alcohollywood

One positive thing about lockdown is that I’ve really solidified my relationship with the cat. We have a great mutual respect at the moment. Another positive thing is that I have ticked off some horror classics that I should really have already seen by now. Don’t Look Now was one such film, and just four years later, master director Dario Argento produced Suspiria, a film that shares the same avant garde style as Don’t Look Now, but with bright colours and ethereal menace…

Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives at the Tanz dance academy in Germany during a violent thunderstorm, and a storm of some kind rages throughout the rest of the movie. As this Grimm like fairytale grows ever darker, Suzy succumbs to her curiosity and learns a horrifying secret in the process.

I had assumed that Luca Guadagnino’s excellent Suspiria remake from a couple of years ago would give me a good working knowledge of what to expect here. Happily, I was surprised to find out that this was not the case. While Guadagnino’s film is definitely on the arty side, it is still filmed in a pretty conventional way and exists within the boundaries of what an audience expects from the horror genre, and indeed from cinema generally. The original Suspiria has no interest in either of those concepts. Instead, Argento employs a haunting and hypnotic score and a psychedelic colour palette that ensures that his vision of a sinister dance school is an assault on the senses. Lights flash, the screen distorts, and those bright reds and greens pop out of the screen, flooding every nightmarish tableau with a garish and unsettling glow. The fact that each character dubs themselves only adds to the dream like quality of the entire production.

While the remake was undoubtedly successful, it certainly wasn’t as haunting as its source material, and the climax nowhere near as monstrous. The conclusion features the kind of scene that lodges deep in your subconscious like a nail through flesh and refuses to let go. In short, it scared me. Properly scared me. And any horror film capable of that is worthy of high praise indeed.

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