As made by seminal giallo maestro Dario Argento, Suspiria will perhaps best be remembered for its unnerving, heart-stoppingly gruesome opening sequences, including one of the most logistically stunning set pieces in film history. But throughout, it’s a cinematic marvel of thematic aural and visual entanglement, defined de facto by the neon reds, blues and greens of its nightmare probe into the occult.
The naively curious Susie Banyon (Jessica Harper, pedestrian but not terrible) is the overgrown American, clueless ingenue fumbling her way through a series of mysterious events.
The power of suggestion and subconscious projection of fear drives the psychological, sub-textual roadmap for the visual narrative of murderous demons, murmuring spectres, and conspiring witches. Apart from a campy, anti-climactic ending, the payoff is always in bucketloads of blood and squeamishness. Cult.
Danger is always off-screen, metaphorically encapsulated, or otherwise obscured from view, creating a consistent negative space which maintains a creepiness that subtly increases tension and apprehension.
The only let down is the self-nullifying conclusion (seemingly out of apathy), and though there is recognition of absurdity, it’s not nearly as terrifying as the buildup would suggest, giving us riddle instead of conflict. Even so, it remains an all time horror masterpiece not to be overlooked.