Dario Argento’s iconic jewel coloured splatterfest has truly stood the test of time in terms of changing the game for horror films and maintaining its thrills and scares 40 years on. The films follows Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) a young ballerina who attends an esteemed dance school in Freiberg. Suzy soon realises that there has been a lot of supernatural activity occurring and she finds herself wandering down a spiral of magic and danger as she faces a coven of witches that rule the school.
The first element to talk about is how beautiful the use of colour and set design is. Argento expresses the moods through an exaggerated use of colour, in particular reds and blues. His aesthetic is heavily influential amongst filmmakers and it’s easy to see why. He treats his film as though it were a piece of art and he isn’t afraid to make something beautiful and contrast this with an extremely grotesque image. The juxtaposition of these enhances the horrors that happen onscreen particularly the opening murder sequence.
My favourite part of Suspiria is the soundtrack by Goblin. This is a collaboration made in heaven. I would argue that the score is what makes the film so memorable because the sound is so distinct. The opening drumroll which then makes way for delicate piano, synthesisers and spoken word is another example of how this film channels its expressionism. The tension that the music builds is relentless and refuses to allow you to feel at ease.
I like the character of Suzy and I think Harper plays her with confidence and sass. She speaks her mind and isn’t afraid to question the incidents happening around her. Initially unbeknownst to her, she is forced to abide by Madame Blanc’s requests. When she is reluctant to move back into the school after staying in town with another student, she mysteriously suffers a haemorrhage during class. You can feel her struggle as limps from one side to the other before collapsing centre stage.
What I love about this film is that there is no reason for what goes on. The coven just exists and it’s up to Suzy to beat them. It’s a simple set up but the complexity of the other components enhances the script. The film plays like a fairytale without moral and plenty of gore.
I’m assuming if you’re a horror fan then you’ve seen this and if not, do so immediately! But even if you’re not a horror buff, I would definitely recommend watching it if you can handle the gore. It’s such a unique film watching experience and gems like this don’t come around often.