Plotline: Girl goes off to a dance academy to follow her dreams of being a ballerina only to find that she is waist-high in witches.
Scariness factor: The video-tape box boasts that Dario Argento (the director) is the "master of horror" and that Suspiria "is considered by many to be one of the most terrifying and stylized horror films of our time." That is a fricking lot to live up to and is the reason I was so geeked up to finally watch this damn movie. In horror-movie-land, you hear Dario Argento's name booted around a lot. So I was eager to try him on for size. All that being said, the movie was scary, no--CREEPY, in parts, but I found it hard to swallow as one of the "most terrifying... horror films of our time." For a 1970's movie, it definitely is daring and gruesome at times. But I never felt scared or nervous for the main character in the way I do with other good horror flicks (TCSM or The Shining) where your energy is invested 100% in trying to will them out of the terrifying place they've found themselves in. I definitely was not left creeped out and desperate to turn on the lights once the movie was done.
Originality: The plot-line is original, yes. Ballerina vs. witches. My guess is that you haven't seen that one done before. Also, the film definitely lives up to its boast of being "one of the most stylized... horror movies of its time." There are some fantastic shots (Argento seems to be a fan of creeping the viewer out through overhead voyeuristic shots) and there are some darkly creepy moments. Blood is garishly bright red. The music (by the band Goblin--tee hee) booms insanely throughout and will scour your brain for hours afterwards. Some scenes are draped in greens and reds in haunting ways. And all of this is handled in a strange and artsy kind of way that you don't typically see in horror films. So if you're interested in checking out an artsier horror movie that concerns itself moreso with how it looks rather than how it scares, you should definitely check this out.
Complaints: I wanted to like this movie more than I actually DID like this movie. It was trying to be daring and different, and I give it credit for that. And that's why I wanted to really really like it. But more often than not, the scares got sacrificed to the technique. And normally I am fine with that--my theory is that if a movie scares your socks off then it's alright if it's bit loose in the technique and/or logic department. And if the movie is creepy and interesting and visually stimulating enough, it's ok if it doesn't make you wet your pants in fright. But I don't know if the movie WAS creepy and interesting enough for me--I found my interest waning at times, as some of the logic of the movie started unravelling and as the pacing got a bit slow in places. And I just found myself wanting to beat the main character into wakefulness more often than not. When it comes down to it, I wanted to be scared, and Suspiria did not satisfy that craving.
High Points: The death scenes are definitely spooky, despite the fake looking blood (whose explanation is given/rationalized in interesting ways HERE). And it is of course entertaining for it's 1970's ambience.
Overall: The box also boasts that "Argento's direction is 'so classy and fast that the movie becomes in effect what horror movies seemed like when you were too young to get to see them.'" And yes, I might agree that this is true. The movie is often moreso hyperbolic than realistic, and this is exactly what horror movies feel like as a child--things are made terrifying simply by seeming completely over the top. And yet, I was not SCARED by this horror film as I was by horror movies as a child. And that's the difference. When you're an adult, you start to see things in more complicated ways, and it takes a bit more to scare you. And Suspiria did not take that leap. It is by no means a terrible movie--I've seen much much worse. But don't go in expecting to be scared shitless, otherwise you will probably be disappointed. Go in expecting art, and you may be pleasantly surprised. And either way, if you are a horror-movie nut, definitely "go in" so you can at least say you've seen an Argento film.
Labels: B movies