Prelude to /slash #2: Suspiria

Italy 1977
Written by Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi
Directed by Dario Argento

Dario Argento was the guest at this years /slash 1/2-festival in May. However, I hadn’t actually seen any of his movies yet at that time (I only knew his “Masters of Horror”-segment “Jenifer”) – which also means that I got introduced to his work with “Dracula 3D”. What a way to start! The horror retrospective at the Filmmuseum gave me the chance to catch up on two of his most beloved classics. I’m happy to report that I won’t need my “Blasphemy Alert”-meme this time, because right from the start, I fell in love with “Suspiria”.

Now I get that this is a movie that, strangely enough, is not universally praised, but it was just right down my alley. Right from the start, this feels like a weird, surreal and genuinely scary nightmare, with that loud and catchy main theme that terrorizes your ears (in a good, uncomfortable, way), the intense colors and gorgeous visuals, Suzies strange arrival in Germany, the pouring rain, the surreal sets… this is definitely one of the most gorgeous and unique looking horror movies that I’ve seen in my life. I also love the first kill; it’s so over the top! “Overkill” in the truest sense of the word. Also, right from the beginning Argento manages to make you feel uneasy, and when he amps up the tension, “Suspiria” is really scary.

It helps that pretty much from her first scene, I developed a crush on 1977s Jessica Harper. What a cute gal. I also really loved the slow buildup. After the nightmarish introduction, we get a chance to ease into the movie and get to know Suzy and the other girls at the dance academy. However, the next strange or downright terrifying scene is never too far away. Besides the great introduction and that unforgettable first kill, the standouts for me were the death of the blind piano player (where Argento uses wide angles to show that he’s completely alone on this huge plaza, which makes him look even more helpless and the situation that he’s in more dire), the scene in the dormitory, Saras escape attempt, and the finale.

There are a couple of things that I didn’t like that much. I’m not the biggest fan of horror movies about witches. When I watch an english movie with it’s original language track, I’m not used to dubbing, thus I found it a little distracting sometimes. And the exposition scene near the end is a little long; it brings the movie to a complete stop for 5+ minutes, and all the tension that was building up before evaporates. Argento does his best to make it look interesting, by using unusual angles, but I think it would have been better if they had found a way to break it down into more segments/reveals, instead of this one long scene where you get hit with all this information. However, those are all minor complaints that barely took anything away from my enjoyment of the movie.


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