30 for 30: Suspiria

Richard Petro

twitter @ThePetroProject

October 04th, 2019

"Susie, do you know anything about... witches?"

     To say that there's been a lot said and written about Dario Argento's Suspiria (especially at this time of the year, any year) would be more than an understatement. Because of this, for quite a while, I debated whether or not I should talk about one of the other of the other great Argento films, be it Deep Red, Inferno, Opera, Phenomena, Bird with the Crystal Plummage, all movies that are part of my regular horror-rotation, but I decided that I would be doing a disservice to myself. Suspiria holds a place in my heart alongside the likes of Halloween as one of my all-time favourite films ever, not just in terms of horror.

     I remember the first time I had seen the film, at a yong age, and being captivated by it. While SUspiria might be light on plot, it's always been described as a film that is more about the experience of it, and it's absolutely true. From the very beginning, with Jessica Harper's Suzy arriving in Germany, the mood is perfectly set for the film with the downpour of the rain, the eerie lighting in the cab, the cold, ominous pulling up to the dance academy, and the co-exisiting scenes of other girls from the school leading into the rest of the opening sequence. Of course, the opening sequence and its death scene has been brought up and celebrate by just about anyone who talks about the movie, but it is truly deserving and perfect. To say any more, in case anyone reading this hasn't seen it, would be to ruin a moment that, well, to repeat the word, should be experienced. The opening death sequence of the film works so well because it isn't only different, but it perfectly encapsulates what the movie is; an operatic, visual smorgasboard of supernatural chaos.

     The beauty of the sets, lighting, and cinematography can't really be summed up properly in words. The work on the school is fantastic, and the differing colours between rooms, especially the overbearing red that haunts the hallways, works wonders in making us feel uneasy. Another major component is the oft-praised music work by Goblin. Working less like music and more as a hand-in-hand assault on the sense with everything else, Goblin's work beats and screeches around every corner, overbearing the natural silence of the scenes with a stress inducing wail. The main title theme is still a masterpiece, and ranks high amongst my favourite pieces of film music in general.

     It's hard to talk too much about Suspiria because of the fact that it is one of those movies that genuinely qualiies as a viewing experience. It's still one of the most perfect "put-on-and-have-fun-with-a-group" horror movies I've come across while also being great for individual rewatches, letting you truly appreciate the number of shots that you could hang on your wall. It'll probably always top many lists of most beautiful horror films, and deservedly so.