Director: Dario Argento
Verdict: Good enough
I’ll level with you. My knowledge of giallo movies is sorely lacking. For a start they’re fucking hard to get hold of and when modern films that I love like Black Swan and The Neon Demon are continuing the proud tradition then I’m good, right? I must admit I do prefer those movies, probably because their production value makes the movie just easier to watch and enjoy but as I always say, there’s nothing quite like the original.
Suspiria follows an American balet dancer played by Jessica Harper, (Minority Report, Phantom of the Paradise), as she begins to learn at an elite German academy. The film explores all of these kind of traditional themes like the commodification of the virginal, the association of women with the occult et cetera et cetera. In the end the story is really fairly predictable and you can probably know exactly what’s going to happen from what I just said about its themes, and it’s feminist readings are, well, questionable at best, but and it’s an important but, what’s so appealing about Dario Argento’s movie are the visuals, and, well, just how batshit crazy it is.
I feel I would have enjoyed this film more in the cinema, reason being the sound mixing is just atrocious. I live in a flat with other human beings and I frequently had to turn it up to hear the dialogue, and down again because when the score kicks in it could have brought the roof down, it was somewhat distracting and irritating, at least in a cinema this isn’t something in my power.
Also, if there’s one thing that Argento, (Once Upon a Time in the West, Tenebre, Phenomena), is known for in his directed movies, it’s his bold, almost theatrical use of colour, and really in this film it verges on comical. For real, you watch it and this room is bathed in red as soon as the lights go off, it’s occasionally farcical. However, most of the time this isn’t the case and the cinematography is really great and striking and a feast for the eyes.
In terms of the plot, it’s fairly by numbers but that might just be because of all the films that draw from Dario, but frankly I doubt it. It really seems like he was more concerned with style than an involving plot but let me say this. He crafted a last act that was one of the craziest I have seen for a long long time. It clearly inspired Refn’s The Neon Demon which is frankly crazier, but it is still fun to have such batshit mad things happening.
In the end Suspiria is all style, all flash, and not really believable, likable, or fleshed out characters but it inspired a genre, and it’s worth a watch if just for that. I mean I personally would sooner watch The Neon Demon but that’s just me.