Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci
Director: Dario Argento
Running Time: 92 mins
Suspiria is an Italian film about a young American woman who travels to Munich to join a prestigious ballet academy, only to realise that, after a series of horrific murders, the place is a front for something much more sinister.
Basically, while this has all the hallmarks of a hallucinogenic and insane 70s horror B-movie, it’s actually quite clever and entertaining. While the real fear element has diminished over time, it’s still a hugely exciting and completely unpredictable story that, while being incredibly gory, is also simply enjoyable to watch.
However, don’t let the word ‘enjoyable’ make you think that it’s a light watch. Instead, it’s an initially convoluted but ultimately clever watch, while the tension that comes along at some points throughout the story is almost unbearable, which adds to the unpredictability of it all, making you more scared the next time something may pop up.
When I was watching this, I was afraid that this would do one of two things. It was either going to be mindless gore and become boring, or not have enough gore and be looking too deeply into its story for the kind of film that it is, but it ended up being pretty balanced between its gore and its (ridiculous) story.
However, at the beginning, it was definitely a lot slower-paced, and there were some periods where you felt that this film was really going off on a tangent. For instance, if you were asked what this was like 20 minutes in, you would say it’s a mix of Lord Of The Flies and Black Swan, but by the end, you realise it’s a mad, but more serious, mix of Rocky Horror, Black Swan and every psychedelic horror in between. Despite that, those tangents are there to draw your attention away from the main story, which, while it bores you initially, makes the ending all the more exciting.
The main thing about this story is that you enjoy it. It’s still thrilling, but not frighteningly thrilling, it’s just pure excitement, and while there are some themes that you could look into like the ballet school symbolising hell or something, this film is wacky enough to be seen and thought of as it is.
Along with its story, this film does have some fantastic technical elements. Some great direction by Dario Argento, creating an atmosphere in the ballet school that’s a mix between a haunted hall of mirrors and the depths of hell, and a score, while a little repetitive and annoying, works its magic at the most important parts of the film.
Overall, then, this gets a 7.3, because while there were some boring periods that I had to suffer, it all made up for it by its enjoyable and exciting feel.