Suspiria (Italy 1977)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/9/14
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Jessica Harper

Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) is a young ballet student who travels to Germany to attend a prestigious dance school. But things immediately aren't right. She witnesses a woman leaving the school in hysterics who ends up murdered the next day. Maggots fall from the ceiling. Strange sounds are heard at night, and her food has obviously been drugged. She learns that the school has some history with witchcraft and the occult, which compels her to learn more about what's going on, even at the risk of her own life.

The film is a psychedelic nightmare of delirium, awash in garish primary colors. Almost immediately you sense that something is off, and Jessica Harper's perpetual look of confusion and dread reflects the tone of the film. The plot is confusing and difficult to follow, and I often had no sense of time or place. Is it all just a fever dream and is Suzy really crazy, or is there something supernatural and sinister going on? The imagery is unsettling throughout and the creepy atmosphere is thick with paranoia and suspense. It also features some of the craziest eyebrows I've ever seen. They must be seen to be believed. Jessica Harper gives a fantastic performance and her radiant beauty stands out among the rest of the cast. Unfortunately, she (as well as the rest of the cast) is poorly dubbed in both the English and Italian versions. I had a hard time trying to decide which version was worse, and even though the character's mouth movements are in English, I ended up listening to the Italian dub instead. Curiously, they use "Suzy Benner" in the Italian dub, as well as a different name for the school. The film has a healthy amount of gruesome sights and grisly murders, but despite all of the critical praise that it's received, I found it tedious and disappointing