Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Review: ''Suspiria'' by Dario Argento

Figure 1 - Suzy

 is a horror/thriller directed by Dario Argento in 1977. It has a bright range of colour and could be considered a 'disco-thrasher'. It follows a woman called Suzy being accepted into a prestigious dance school in Germany. Upon her arrival she stumbles into fellow student Pat, mumbling a warning that she could not make out. When Pat arrives back at her flat, she is murdered, creating a sense of hysteria within all of the students at the school. More and more horrible occurrences happen throughout the house and within Suzy's room, all leading up to Suzy discovering the secrets hidden within the school. It seems apparent that the film could have an influence from German Expressionism, and maybe even 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' in particular. ''Argento's deliriously artificial horror film owes as much to Georges Melies and German Expressionism as it does to Jean Cocteau and Grimm fairy tales''. (Gonzalez, 2001). The film gives you very little evidence that the film is set in Germany, but Argento's use of subtle gaze techniques is effective in bringing this across in small ways, for example, there was a poster of the black forest taped to one of the walls in the airport. 

The films use of suspense are foreshadowing is hugely effective. Towards the beginning there is a shot of the automatic doors shutting, close up to the mechanism used to make it shut, They shut very suddenly, simulating the idea of knives, foreshadowing the horrific stabbing of Pat further on in the film. Later in the film, when all of the students sleep in the hall, a mysterious shadow appears behind Suzy and Pat, foreshadowing a much later appearence in the film. Furthermore, the use of music is very effective, it has big jumps, and cut off when entering different rooms. Argento's use of silence also creates a very effective sense of suspense, especially when Sara is being chased by the murderer throughout the school. 

Image result for suspiria
Figure 2 - Final Scene

The representation of women within the film is very interesting. The film is predominantly women, with the few men being servants or workers for the women, This insinuates that women have the power within the film. It is clear from the onset that the women don't completely get along, whether it be petty arguments between the students or clashes between tutors. This could suggest that women cannot stand together, even within feminism and that women are much more likely to to make a sexist comment than men are, or perhaps internal misogyny, ''as if being female is some kind of ''get out of jail free'' care that excuses us from playing by the very rules we want men to keep''. (Wollenberg, 2009)

The film's use of colour is hugely effective. For a horror film, it is surprising to see the lack of shadows and darkness throughout the film. In replacement to this, bright reds, blues and yellows shine through cracks, and around corners, adding brightness to the film. These light sources seem very odd, due to their source being impossible and unnatural. What is certain is that the lighting does not feel natural in any way. The audience know that this doesn't feel right, with whole hallways and rooms being lit in a very vibrant primary colour. The colours almost seem as if they are warnings but it is really hard to understand the representation of each one, they are ''a constant reminder that you are inhabiting a dream. That no one takes notice of their unnatural world only heightens the unease. No one knows how unsafe they truly are.'' (Hall, 2016). 

Figure 3 - Students Sleeping in the Hall

Suspiria is clearly a fantasy film. and completely artificial. It appears as if it is meant to feel like our world, but continuously breaks boundaries and rules throughout the film. The audience is constantly left asking why Suzy decides to delve deeper into the dangerous truth rather than just fleeing the danger. She never seems as if she wants to leave, but just wants to know more. This adds to the dream-like feel to the film. The film identifies our need to know more, as an opportunity for discovery, rather than running. 


1. Gonzalez, E. (2016). Suspiria | Film Review | Slant Magazine. [online] Slant Magazine. Available at: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/suspiria [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].
2. Hall, J. (2016). Suspiria Review: A Bad Dream Made Real. [online] Slashfilm. Available at: http://www.slashfilm.com/suspiria-review/2/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].
3. Wollenberg, A. (2016). Anne Wollenberg: If feminists want equality, they must stop stereotyping men. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/feb/04/gender-women [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].

4. 20jazzfunkgreats.co.uk. (2016). Suspiria ain’t no disco | 20jazzfunkgreats. [online] Available at: http://www.20jazzfunkgreats.co.uk/wordpress/2015/02/suspiria-aint-no-disco/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].
5. Daily Grindhouse. (2016). [GIALLO WEEK!] SUSPIRIA (1977) - Daily Grindhouse. [online] Available at: http://dailygrindhouse.com/thewire/giallo-week-suspiria-1977/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].
6. FilmGrab. (2016). Suspiria. [online] Available at: https://film-grab.com/2013/03/12/suspiria/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2016].

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