Suspiria (1977) Film Review Dario Argento
Suspiria is an Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento in 1977. The story follows an american ballet dancer as she joins a german ballet school. However the during her time there, a number of vicious murders occur and is revealed that the school is run by a coven of witches.
As soon as the film starts we are thrown into a 12 minute long tension filled murder scene. Immediately we can see that Argento is not aiming to create a realsitic film but one more about the twisted amazing set design and how grusome he can make a death. He does this my making the whole set over the top with bright colours and warped patterns, the scenes seem more about art than making a film. When watching this film, there are many hints of other films such as The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari. Ed Gonzalez says that "Argento's visuals actively evoke a fairy-tale fantastique, engaging and toying with the Technicolor glory of Disney's cartoon version of Snow White" (Gonzalez, 2001). This quote could relate to the fact that each scene does feel like a cartoon. For example, when we see blood it almost looks simply like pink/red paint,it does not seem that Argento wanted the blood to look realistic but to be this unnatural opaque liquid,seen in Figure 2.
Another way Argento creates an unrealistic weird atmosphere is through the use of lighting. As we continue through the film it is hard to remember any scene where we have encountered natural light. Argento uses bright colours to fill a scene to create different moods, for example, in one scene a character turns off a light and in normal circumstances the set would be plunged into darkness, however Argento floods the room with a sinister green glow to make the scene feel much more evil. Ian Berriman describes Argento's use of colour by, "He uses coloured gels to light scenes in an ever-revolving palette of vivid primary colours, so that, say, a shot of rain falling becomes a shower of blood." (Berriman, 2010). These lights can easily switch the mood of the scene with a simple switch such as a nice calming blue colour to a vicious red just before scene of horror.
Argento's epic horror is also accompanied by a tension filled soundtrack. "It's difficult to give a flavour of its unique, surreal, hyper-intense mood by simply describing it." (Smith, s.d.) Argento creates this tension by delivering scenes with continuous drones of unbearable sounds to make the audience constantly on the edge of their seat until finally you are thrown into silence. This silence seems to only occur just before the violent act of murder is about to happen. The silence seems to create much more horror than the pounding headache of a soundtrack that you wished hadn't of ended until finally you stuck with the nightmarish violence. This accompanied with the sinister lighting creates a masterpiece of a horror film.
Gonzalez, E (2001) Suspiria Film Review http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/suspiria (Accessed on 4/12/13)
Berriman, I (2010) Suspiria Film Review http://www.sfx.co.uk/2010/06/07/freakshow-suspiria/ (Accessed on 4/12/13)
Smith, A (s.d.) Suspiria Film Review http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132659 (Accessed on 4/12/13)
Figure 1, Suspiria (1977) Dario Argento [Film Poster] Italy, Seda Spettacoli http://heim.etherweave.com/weblog/archives/POSTER%20-%20SUSPIRIA-thumb.JPG (Accessed on 4/12/13)
Figure 2, Suspiria (1977) Dario Argento [Film Still] Italy, Seda Spettacoli http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-C5hrcRv9SY0/UIB_S3C-1YI/AAAAAAAAMLk/31Bmjtqo8iU/s1600/Suspiria12.png (Accessed on 4/12/13)
Figure 3, Suspiria (1977) Dario Argento [Film Still] Italy, Seda Spettacoli http://tommygirard.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/suspiria11.jpg (Accessed on 4/12/13)
Figure 4, Suspiria (1977) Dario Argento [Film Still] Italy, Seda Spettacoli http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6XTNgM826EQ/TcC_TFmHbiI/AAAAAAAAAWE/IKB3aKXZXbM/s1600/suspiria-red-hall.jpg (Accessed on 4/12/13)