The horror movie genre has been seriously lacking in the…scary department as of late. With the exception of very few recent horror movies, (Get Out, Mother!, Hereditary, It Follows, The Witch), I have been going to movie theaters after reading the most over-hyped reviews and leaving the theater like… “So…where was the scary part?” Even the soundtrack should make your skin crawl even in the poorest attempt at terror. I used to think perhaps my skin got thicker but Hereditary proved to me that there’s loads of potential for me to be creeped out. I even got to the point of needing to watch a Golden Girls episode before closing my eyes for bed. That said, I decided to look backwards. There’s quite a few classic horror movies I’ve never seen or some I’ve seen but couldn’t remember very well. Suspiria, (1977), is more along the lines of a film I’ve seen most of but it wasn’t in great quality by any means. Synapse Films’ Blu-ray remaster felt like a great chance to revisit.
Suzy Bannion is the new student at a prestigious German dance academy and very soon, she learns that something can’t be right at the school. Students are dying in gruesome ways and she hasn’t been feeling very well since she arrived. The rising questions she has do indeed have answers, but nothing like what she suspected. Before the end of the movie, Suzy begins to question if she will survive and how.
Almost anything involving witches has my attention immediately and learning about this film was no exception. The restoration in Blu-ray format is incredible and the digital version I initially saw online really should be ashamed of having such poor picture quality. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s so much this movie gets right for a horror film; An eerie soundtrack, plenty of suspense leading to death scenes, blood and gore, and creating a strong sense of danger. But with all of its great points, the story does not flow coherently at all. Suzy is asking all the right questions except, “Why am I still here?” The witches aren’t seen as much of a threat until the very end. This could have worked extremely well if not for the poorly executed final 10 minutes. The deaths of said witches don’t make much sense and their motivations for killing the students isn’t made clear either. It’s unfortunate considering the soundtrack’s way of alerting the viewer of danger is superb and the deaths of students are intense. Suzy’s basic actions as a character don’t make much sense either when she’s attending a prestigious school and yet none of her own dance skills are ever highlighted. Like…she passes out during a basic dance warm up and somehow we as viewers are supposed to believe homegirl should have left America to go to school in Germany?
But honestly, I’d watch Suspiria a hundred times over ever seeing Winchester a second time. Even if I was frowning my face trying to understand how the story makes sense, director Dario Argento knows how to make a person feel uneasy. Whether with a song that initially sounds shimmery and pretty the first time you hear it or following a girl down a hallway until she dies, Suspiria does its job at being a horror movie.
Just not as a well-written one. Maybe the remake coming later in the year will get it right.
Rating: 7 out of 10