Suspiria, the 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, has long been hailed as a “classic” by many horror fans. However, as much as I love Italian horror movies and as much as I admire Argento’s work, I have to say that Suspiria just didn’t do it for me. In fact, I think it’s a pretty overrated and extremely boring horror movie.
I’ve watched Suspiria on both DVD and Blu Ray, and while the latter format makes the movie absolutely stunning in terms of image quality and vibrant colors, the flaws and cracks in the story still stick out like a sore thumb. It’s a huge shame, as if the plot of the movie had been as wonderful and amazing as its colorful presentation, then I would certainly have added my own complimentary comments to those of those who love the movie.
Suspiria begins with the main protagonist, American ballet student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), who travels through a stormy night (now there IS a horror cliché, if there ever was one) to join a ballet school. exclusive. During his taxi ride from the airport, he begins to experience real feelings of growing fear and unease, leading us to believe that this is apparently going to be an incredibly enjoyable movie. This impression is compounded by the events of the next twenty minutes, culminating in a brutal murder.
When Suzy returns to school the next morning, she discovers that the student seen being chased through the woods the night before was the victim of a brutal killer. The school’s principal, Madame Blanc (Jean Bennett), tries to ease Suzy’s anxiety. However, the rather curt and authoritative manner displayed by her assistant, Miss Tanner (Alida Valli), only adds to Suzy’s nervousness. Apparently, this is not the first time that a student has disappeared from this school.
As time passes, the ominous feeling that not everything is as it seems in this establishment just grows and grows. Despite Suzy’s efforts to fit in with her fellow students, they aren’t exactly warm and welcoming. However, he eventually befriends a girl named Sara (Stefania Cassini), who later disappears after being harassed by a sinister and malevolent force. Realizing that her own safety, and even her life, could also be at risk, Suzy decides that she must get to the bottom of the dark and untold secrets this establishment may be harboring.
One of Suspiria’s main flaws, in my opinion, was the superfluous use of bright colors and eye-catching camera angles at the expense of a good, solid story. Also, there were too many moments in the movie that show Suzy just walking through seemingly endless corridors. There’s nothing I hate more in a horror movie than long, boring stretches where the character doesn’t say anything or interact with anyone. It just leaves you wondering how long this endless scene will last before something happens.
Another aspect of Suspiria that I hated was the general ambiguity of the story as a whole. I mean just what Was it the seemingly malevolent force that was harassing the school? Was the school just a front for a collectively planned murder spree? And all the senior staff Really part of a witch’s coven? Well, we eventually found out that the latter seemed to be true, as Suzy bumps into all of them gathered in a room, with the headmaster making witch-like threats at Suzy’s direction. But even though it seemed to explain the nature of the threat to some extent, that ending was too flat and anti-climatic for my liking. The movie started out very promising, but it ended so badly.
Given all the critical acclaim that Suspiria has built up over the years, I tried to make myself like the movie, really. Unfortunately, I have to say that its lifeless plot, along with its mostly non-speaking characters, left a lot to be desired. Unlike most of Argento’s other movies, Suspiria is certainly not a movie that you can go back and watch over and over again.