Sunday, November 19, 2006

Suspiria ***

Jessica Harper, beautiful and quite un-talented.

I am torn between feeling too generous and too harsh by giving this review for Suspiria, but I think I've found a nice balance. On one hand, let's face it, the film has a terrible script, wooden actors and and ending that is inconslusive and answers almost none of the thousands of questions we have been asking. On the other hand, it is one of the scariest films I have ever seen.
Plot, in a nutshell: As a narrator tells us in the opening credits,
Suzy Banyon decided to perfect her ballet studies in the most famous school of dance in Europe. She chose the celebrated academy of Freeborge. One day, at nine in the morning, she left Kennedy airport, New York, and arrived in Germany at 10:40 p.m. local time.
Suzy is played by the gorgeous and noticeably untalented Jessica Harper, who takes a cab to her German Adademy but can't get in (the person answering the door tells her to "Go away, go away, go away!")
Just as she is trying to get in someone else is trying to get out, and in the best, scariest and most chilling sequence of the movie, the camera follows this expelled student to a hotel in the nearby town where a friend offers her the night. She's only staying for one.

Jessica Harper gets to know her very strange peers and flirts with a German boy who is there only so Jessica Harper can flirt with a German boy. Then she is insulted by a wierd bitchy girl who is there only so there can be a wierd bitchy girl to insult Suzy. There are murders. Suzy gets exhausted in her first dance lesson and collapses. The doctor, for a reason that is never explained later, simply gives her a diet involving wine. Suzy insists at staying at the Academy nights instead of the nearby town, pissing off the facist looking teacher. Suzy's roomate keeps obsessing over strange things like whether or not the headmistress (unseen throughout most of the movie) is sleeping in the room next to them or not, or whether the teachers actually leave the school.

In the review so far, I have only pointed out the flaws. The film contains excellent cinematography by Luciano Tovoli and a shiver inducing, driving score by Davio Argentino himself (performed by the Goblins, who performed their music on set at full blast to scare the actors).

Like The Shining, Suspiria survives as a great horror film on style. Three key scenes, the second especially, are not even scary in a fun way. There are scary in a scary way, to the point when it can't even be enjoyed anymore and the audience is as scared as the poor protagonistesses. I've forgotten how. I might have noticed his tricks while I was watching the film itself. Um...he did it with "pacing issues."

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