Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Suspiria - Film Review

fig.1 film poster

Directed by Dario Argento, ‘Suspiria’ is a 1977 Italian horror film that consists of rather disturbing scenes for the time of its conception. “It naturally follows that Argento's true strength as a filmmaker is his direction of murder scenes, and the occult deaths presented here are among the bloodiest and hardest to take in horror history” (Firsching, R. 1997). In a combination of notable technical aspects of the film ‘Suspiria’ has become a well-known piece of work within the film industry. Described as a master piece by some the film has been considered as a cult classic using elements of design within sound, set and lighting to bring out the fear factor in the film.

The film follows the protagonist Suzy Bannion, a ballet student who has just arrived at a dance school in Freiburg, Germany. From this point a number of strange events occur including the death of several students, maggots falling through the ceiling and tales of witches. In the end Suzy kills the queen witch and escapes the academy along with the violence that followed it.

Firstly, focusing upon ‘Suspira’s’ art direction, Argento has chosen to takes up a far more abstract point of view upon its lighting and set design. “Bright blues and deep reds and sickly yellows invade the frame, creeping in from around corners, shining through curtains, and bouncing off walls from light sources that simply cannot exist”(Hall, J. 2016), as stated by Hall the lights that produced both in position and colour are unnatural and describe an unrealistic scene. Instead this acts as a device that provokes a specific thought or feeling within the viewer. In times of danger red is used hinting towards the hazard around the corner being one of the more common colours used during run time. Green is also used in addition to the colours mentioned above, although used in a different manor with the intend of signifying an imminent death however its rare appearance means that it is something that truly alerts the audience. 

These brighter, primary colours are married with sets filled with translucent material, glass or reflective surfaces ultimately leading to more beautiful shots. Despite the striking nature of the obscure lights merging into the darkness the lights still led to the horror nature of the film. As the colours are changed subtly with the set the audience will notice these little changes that would put them on guard with expectation of the following events. 

fig.2 corridor lit red

Another layer adding to the suspense and tension of the film is the pacing. Slow and expressive the murders and deaths are carried out over a number of minutes while the malicious chase before hands lasts even longer. Running and fighting for their lives the viewer is given the conception that some of these characters will survive. However over time it soon becomes a question of when. It is the suspense of not knowing the exact moment when a character will be killed off and how that holds the audience’s attention.

In all ‘Suspiria’ can be regarded as both a beautiful and suspenseful horror film that is capable of gripping on to its viewers. 


French, P. (2010) Classic DVD; Suspiria

Firsching, R. (1997) Suspiria

Hall, J. (2016) Why 'Susipira' is the Craziest, Most Colourful Bad Dream You'll Ever Watch

Illustration list

fig.1 Website
http://images.moviepostershop.com/suspiria-movie-poster-1977-1000436044.jpg (accessed 19/12/16)

fig.2 Website
https://www.acheronbooks.com/img/cms/Suspiria/Suspiria5.jpg (accessed 19/12/16)

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