Sunday, August 24, 2008

Suspiria


Suspiria; Horror-thriller, Italy, 1977; D: Dario Argento, S: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett, Flavio Bucci, Udo Kier

The young American girl Suzy Banyon arrives in Freiburg. It's raining so she takes a taxi from the airport to her new ballet academy she enlisted. But nobody opens her the door so she spends the night in a hotel. The next day, she returns to the academy and this time she is greeted with apologies and escorted to her room. Recently, a murder occurred in school and a corpse of a student was found. Suzy meets someone in the hall and later on, as if bewitched, falls unconscious during the dance. Even later on she is plagued by hallucinations. When a former blind pianist of the school is killed by his dog and Suzy's friend Sara disappears, she decides to investigate. She discovers her school is run by witches. When she kills the main witch, Helen, the school burns.

"Suspiria" is a rare treat of the rare example of Italian horror genre, which makes it even more 'underground' than it already is, using every movie trick to create suspense, but it's style and elegance pull it out of the depths of trash some critics often accuse it off. It's value is already sensed in the thesis "what if it was never made?" - namely, a lot of movie goers would have been deprives of a cult endemic jewel. The story - as is often the case with Argento - is thin and full of plot holes, but the director's visual style is extremely accentuated: for instance, the scene where Suzy is driving in a taxi cab at night and looks to the woods where she spots a silhouette of a person who glitters in the dark; some woman looks through the window and spots a few demon eyes glowing in the dark, observing her; a blind man doesn't notice giant shadows of the witches on the buildings...To make things even more interesting, Argento original idea was that the ballet school would accommodate young girls aged 12. However the studio denied his request because a horror film involving children would be surely be banned, which is why he raised the age of the heroines, but left some of their naive dialogues. Basically, "Suspiria" has a simple concept, but that's the only thing it needs. It's like exotic food you try hesitantly, but then admit it's actually quite tasteful.

Grade:+++

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