Suspiria: When Light is Your Protagonist

dog
                                                                                 “I thought you said he didn’t bite!”

Rightly it is said of utter, utter misery, that it ‘cannot be remembered’; itself, being a rememberable thing, is swallowed up in its own chaos.

  • Suspira de Profundis, Thomas De Quincey

The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of this film are the first 92.

  • The rather awkward slogan from Suspiria’s original marketing campaign

Those who know the works of director Dario Argento, proclaim his 1977 film Suspiria to be a masterpiece and rightly deserves its reputation as a cult horror classic.

They might on to something.

SUSPIRIA poster
                                                                  12 + 92       The math of horror

To give it a haiku review, it’s a terrifically odd film, highly stylized with garish sets (even by ‘70s standards), amped-up acting, stock horror characters and a formulaic plot. The dialogue is wooden, heavy on exposition, and often indecipherable with poor dubbing.

There is definitely a Fellinian horror vibe happening. Whereas Fellini uses the grotesque to somehow highlight beauty, Argento goes the other way: if something looks wrong, it’s likely evil.

And yet…there’s something about it…Again, the Fellini vibe: you are entering someone’s dream, and the dreamer is having a graphic nightmare. If you accept that premise, the film comes to life – the monster comes off the slab. If not, then it becomes an art film of the worst kind.

Interested in cinematography? Then pay attention to the use of light. In

suspiria_uber
                                                                                            “This is an Uber, right?”

Suspiria, light is as much a character as any person. It is a true motive force. Cinematographer Luciano Tovoli is a master  – and his mastery shows.

The soundtrack by the aptly named group Goblin, is reminiscent of Mike Oldfield’s work on The Exorcist – spiraling, hallucinatory, and dark.

Suspiria is seductive: it takes us to Nightmare Land – you want to leave, but every wall you touch turns to mist, and every stairway leads to nowhere. No wonder they’re remaking this film: dreams have no beginning – and definitely no end.