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Suspiria – An Overrated Horror Movie
Suspiria, the 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, has long been hailed as a “classic” by many horror fans. However, as much as I love Italian horror films and as much as I admire Argento’s work, I have to say that Suspiria just didn’t do it for me. In fact, I think it’s more of an overrated horror movie, and extremely boring.
I’ve watched Suspiria on DVD and Blu Ray, and while the latter format makes the film absolutely stunning in terms of picture quality and vibrant colors, the flaws and cracks in the script still stick out like a sore thumb. It’s a shame, because if the plot of the film had been as wonderful and brilliant as its colorful presentation, then I would have certainly added my own glowing comments to those who love the film.
Suspiria opens with the main protagonist, American ballet student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), traveling through a stormy night (now THERE IS a horror cliche if ever there was one) to join a ballet school exclusive. During her taxi ride from the airport, she begins to experience genuine feelings of growing fear and unease, and we’re led to believe that this will, apparently, be a very enjoyable film. This impression is compounded by the events of the next twenty minutes, which culminate in a brutal murder.
When Suzy returns to school the next morning, she finds that the student seen being chased through the woods the night before has fallen victim to a brutal killer. The school principal, Madame Blanc (Jean Bennett), tries to ease Suzy’s anxiety. However, the rather dry and authoritative manner displayed by her assistant, Miss Tanner (Alida Valli), only adds to Suzy’s nervousness. Apparently, this isn’t the first time a student has disappeared from this school.
Over time, the disturbing feeling that all is not quite as it seems at this establishment only grows and grows. Despite Suzy’s best efforts to fit in with her fellow students, they aren’t exactly warm and welcoming. However, she ends up befriending a girl called Sara (Stefania Cassini), who then disappears after being stalked by a sinister and malevolent force. Realizing that her own safety – and even her life – could also be in danger, Suzy decides she must get to the bottom of the dark and untold secrets this facility may be harboring.
One of Suspiria’s major flaws, in my opinion, was the superfluous use of bright colors and gaudy camera angles at the expense of a good solid storyline. Plus, there were way too many moments in the movie that show Suzy walking down seemingly endless hallways. There’s nothing I hate more in a horror movie than boring, drawn-out sequences in which the character doesn’t say anything or interact with anyone. It just leaves you wondering how long this endless scene is going to last before something happens.
Another aspect of Suspiria that I hated was the general ambiguity of the story as a whole. I mean, just What was the seemingly malevolent force that beset the school? Was the school just a front for a series of collectively planned murders? And were all the senior executives Really part of a coven of witches? Well, we finally learn at the end that the latter seemed to be true, as Suzy stumbles upon them all gathered in a room, with the principal uttering typical witch-like threats in Suzy’s direction. But while that seemed to explain the nature of the threat to some degree, that ending was just too flat and anti-climactic for my tastes. The film started out so promising, but ended so badly.
Considering all the critical acclaim Suspiria has received over the years, I tried to like the movie, really. Sadly, I have to say that its lifeless plot, coupled with its mostly silent characters, left a lot to be desired. Unlike most of Argento’s other films, Suspiria is definitely not a film I could watch over and over again.
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