A transfixing technicolor marvel; harsh reds, blues, and greens painting a kaleidoscopic nightmare of paranoia. Suspiria is a horror flick that puts aethsethics above all else, telling its story more succinctly through the undulated terror in the eyes of its stalked victims, than through its somewhat stilted dubbed dialogue.
The tension, which is stretched throughout its runtime, comes from it’s unpredictability. The cause of the series of murders is left implied, but somewhat undefined until the end of the film, leaving a huge possibility space for what can go awry. When the harsh primary colors that bathe the labyrinthine Tanz Dance Academy combine with the positively sinister main theme, the particulars of what is happening are drowned out by an all consuming primal fear. The ambiguity around the particulars only enhances this mood of uncertainty.
In a modern viewing context, it can feel a little difficult to classify Suspiria. If the two extremes of modern horror films were to be defined as “horror as a metaphor” on one end of the spectrum (The Babadook, Raw, Get Out), and “horror as pure thrill inducing genre fiction” on the other (Final Destination, Saw, slashers), labeling Suspiria is a little bit tricky. While it often feels quite schlocky, there is an undeniable artistry in its confluence of otherworldly images and it’s haunting soundtrack. There are some thematic undercurrents regarding the pressures of school and performance arts, but the focus is on action, not plot. The characters feel barely defined, lacking interiority and complex motivations. But, the film feels so thoroughly disconnected from modern slashers due to its patience and affinity for slow builds towards its violence, that lumping it in with that category of horror film feels unjustified.
Despite the thinness of its script, Argento’s giallo cult classic gets by on its visual flair, painting a truly iconic world of supernatural splendor and terror. Here’s hoping that Luca Guadagnino’s homage can live up to he original.
Image Source: Wikipedia