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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Space Oddities : Suspiria (1977)

Dario Argento`s Suspiria (1977) is a theatrical horror film, where the logic of colour transforms the set into a menacing labyrinth of murder and psychosis. Unlike The Shining which was previous reviewed, Suspiria used extreme lighting and colour to achieve a fearful design which along with the soundtrack created mass fear for the audience. From the start
the audience immediately gets a sense of the danger and terror this film will bring about. “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,2000). Although the Technicolor method was used in the 50s, the grainy effect set the film correctly given its artist movement. Where the buildings looked like they jumped out from an Art Deco movement, the Technicolor method set the film back several years to help make the art style more convincing to the audience.

The first moments of the film are quite dramatic when it comes to lighting , where the setting seems natural when Suzy arrives out of the airport, however, almost immediately when she exits the audience is bombarded with thunder and lightning : a modern trait of horror films
when it comes to weather. However, when in the car the lightning transforms with hues of red and sickly green making it look like Suzy has blood smeared over her face, almost indicating the events about to happen with the expelled student. Red is shown everywhere through this film, with the buildings, lighting and even the students, showing that everywhere within the academy is related to murder and danger and there is no escape. 

The only natural scenery shown is when Suzy finally escapes for a scene where she meets with the psychiatrist in town. The difference between the norm in this film and this scene is the lighting and colour scheme. Where in town there is no harsh colourful lighting with no red in sight, this shows how when out of the academy she escapes it`s insanity (the intense colour representing it`s insanity) and how it doesn`t affect her in the outside world.

“Argento, often called the Italian Hitchcock (it's a misnomer, the only things the two actually share are grandiose misogyny and a liking for sustained sequences)” - (Smith,2000) .Although Aregento was called the Italian Hitchcock because of the sustained sequences, both uses of intense soundtrack set the atmosphere for their films greatly . Where in Suspiria the dainty yet suspenseful soundtrack makes it seems like the director or the witches in the film are toying with their prey. Chasing them around the academy with heavy breathing, laughing and chanting. The film is almost like a game. Throughout the film the
theme of toying with Suzy and Sarah becomes more evident where doors mysteriously open and ends up with them getting murdered. How the menacing corridors enclose the girls as they try to figure the mysteries of the academy out while the constant feeling of being stalking by the camera and breathing makes the idea of the chase more clear.

Overall, the intensity of this film provided a terrifying experience which kept the audience on edge and fearful the entire time. With Suspiria's psychologically thrilling soundtrack chiming and rasping across the theatre , it made it seem the audience were inside the film and too part of this chase that the witches were governing. As a closing quote to summarize this film: 

“Argento relentlessly assaults his audience: his own rock score (all dissonance and heavy-breathing) blasts out in stereo, while Jessica Harper gets threatened by location, cast, weather and camera. Thunderstorms and extraordinarily grotesque murders pile up as Argento happily abandons plot mechanics to provide a bravura display of his technical skill.” - (Time Out ,Date Unknown)

Bibliography :

Fig 1 (1977) [Screengrab] (Accessed 1/12/15)

Fig 2 (1977) [Screengrab] (Accessed 1/12/15)

Fig 3 (1977) [Screengrab] (Accessed 1/12/15)

(Time Out Date Unknown) Suspiria :

(Smith , A 2000) Suspiria Review :


  1. Nice observation, Sarah : "With Suspiria's psychologically thrilling soundtrack chiming and rasping across the theatre , it made it seem the audience were inside the film" - it does feel like that, almost as if you're 'submerged' in Suspiria! Some imaginative, creative analysis in here (but a few typos too....)

  2. Thoughtful review Sarah :)
    Don't forget that you need to italicise all the film names, so 'The Shining' too; also, the first time you mention 'The Shining', you should put its production date in brackets after it. I can't do italics on the comments section unfortunately :( ... but it would look like this - The Shining (1980). You only need to do that the first time a film is mentioned (but always put in italics).

    1. Sorry Jackie I didn`t see your response at first :S . But thank you! I will do this in future reviews :)