Fig. 1. Suspiria poster.
Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) is an Italian horror film that is visually enchanting but evidentially less focused on the overall plot. It’s got a variety of uncomfortable scenes which include a guide dog mauling its owner, however overall this is a film that is very hard not to become absorbed in.
Fig. 2. Red lighting still.
The plot is rather lacking even though it has a strange twist near the end, however Argento’s use of lighting is what makes this film visually stunning. As Smith points out in his review of the film ‘And then there's Argento's masterful use of deep primary colours — the sets are bathed in garish red and green light (he acquired 1950s Technicolor stock to get the effect) giving the whole film a hallucinatory intensity.’ (Smith, 2007). Smith suggests that Argento’s use of overly saturated primary colours gives the film a hallucinatory effect. It is evident that Argento used such strong colours to mirror what was happening in the scenes, for example near the end of the film he uses vibrant reds to compliment the murderous scenes that are taking place.
Fig. 3. Green lighting still.
It is possible that the films ability to capture the viewer’s attention is mainly successfully due to its strong visual style. As stated in a Film4 review of the film, ‘Hailed as a European horror classic, Suspiria's bloody charm resides in its technical triumphs and visual style.’ (Film4, 2008). This implies that the films horror is achieved through its style. Argento was able to create a completely stylized world that still felt and looked convincing, he’s use of strong colours changed the overall mood of the film and helped create tense and horrific scenes. It is clear that the films lacking plot is redeemed purely by its style.
The soundtrack adds a level of tension to the film that makes it increasingly more scary, a magical melody is screamed as an indication that something bad is about to happen, it ties in with the plot twist of the film being about witchcraft. As Vaux points out, ‘The legendary soundtrack from Goblin gets under our skin immediately, aiming to unsettle us at the fundaments before the movie goes to work on us in earnest.’ (Vaux, 2014). Vaux suggests that the soundtrack is extremely effective at creating an uneasy tension from the start and carries on throughout the film. It is evident that the soundtrack becomes very over powering, during the film it’s sometimes hard to hear what is actually happening due to the screech power from the soundtrack. Like many horror films, the soundtrack gives the viewer a hint to when they should shut their eyes and expect horrible things to happen.
Overall Suspiria is an enchanting horror film that will leave you feeling haunted, through its use of extreme visuals and ear bursting soundtrack. With some scenes that will never leave your memory, it is definitely a must watch for any horror lover.
Argento, D. (1977). Figure 1. Suspiria poster. http://collider.com/wp-content/uploads/suspiria-poster.jpg (Accessed on 07/12/2014)
Argento, D. (1977). Figure 2. Red lighting still. http://screenmusings.org/movie/blu-ray/Suspiria/pages/Suspiria-102.htm (Accessed on 07/12/2014)
Argento, D. (1977). Figure 3. Green lighting still. http://frankzumbach.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/suspiria8_copy0.jpg (Accessed on 07/12/2014)
Film4. (2008). film4.com. http://www.film4.com/reviews/1976/suspiria (Accessed on 07/12/2014)
Smith, A. (2007). empireonline.com. http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132659 (Accessed on 07/12/2014)
Vaux, R. (2014). mania.com http://www.mania.com/31-days-horror-suspiria_article_140631.html (Accessed on 07/12/2014)