Out of all the films I’ve reviewed in this marathon if I had to rank them by the strength of their presentation and how it’s interwoven with the narrative, then Dario Argento Suspiria would be an easy number one.
In fact, it was so close to getting my highest grade. My only struggle with doing so is that maybe the overall characterizations could be more fleshed out. The characters aren’t even that bad by any means (especially compared to the standard slasher flicks), and they’re certainly well-performed. I don’t think I was as invested in them as much as I would have preferred. Which is the one trait that defines the films that I’ve considered to be the holy grail of the genre.
This is an Italian film, and it should be noted that some may be caught off guard with the dubbing. All of the actor’s dialogue is dubbed in English. Despite all of them performing the scenes in their native language depending on the actor. It’s a common practice of Italian filmmaking at the time, and while it’s doesn’t negatively affect the film for me, others might need a few minutes to adjust to it.
When that’s compared to everything else Suspiria brings to the table, however, it’s hard to fault the film that much. From the first frame, I was glued to the screen. How Suspiria utilizes various colors and blends them in and out of scenes honestly had my jaw to the floor. Not even getting into how terrific lights and shadows are contrasted against each other. At no point does it feel like a tacky gimmick, but something that adds to a brutally vibrant picture. And when it’s time for the blood to start pouring, the final result is genuinely chilling but almost wonderfully beautiful with how the film comes together. Certain images will be forever burned into my memory.
Direction is crucial to ensuring that everything that happens on screen can keep the viewer interested. Argento goes insane with not just the color choices but with the shot composition and framing of every scene. There’s this off-kilter feel that dominates the film even for scenes that may seem normal at face value, but it oozes so much tension. The music by Argento and the progressive rock band Goblin is also important to the overall success of Suspiria. Perfectly overwhelming, the soundtrack adds such a visceral quality to the stunning imagery. It might as well be a character in its own right.
The best way to describe Suspiria from everything I’ve said is that it’s a true assault’ on the senses. How the visuals and music are combined with this story easily makes for the most stylish film I’ve seen out of this marathon. And when taking the fact that this is coming out of a slasher flick (One that I’m very much unfamiliar with in comparison to other branches of horror), I am left wonderfully baffled.