Suzy Bannion, an American ballet student transfers to a German prestigious dance academy to pursue her craft as a dancer. Not long after her arrival Suzy begins to suspect that something terrible is occurring within the academy. After students and staff are found murdered, and rumours of witchcraft begin to circulate, Suzy plans to investigate what evil lurks within the walls of the academy.
Argento delivers Suspiria with vibrant colours and intense lighting. Shifting between extreme red and green lighting, the dramatic effect of the lighting is both hallucinatory and nightmarish. In addition the sets are equally as impressive, that are again combined with energetic colours which over all give an impression of evil, sadism. There are many artistic decisions made by Argento, including unusual camera angles, stunning set designs and bizarre lights; all of which contribute to Suspiria being a classic horror.
The films score composed by Argento and the rock band Goblin sounds demonic and resembles eerie sounds of The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976). With loud instruments, including a cultish didgeridoo, and impaled screams the music suggests that something unpleasant awaits for the characters that are on screen.
The original campaign confidently advertised that the only thing more terrifying than the last five minutes of Suspiria were the first ninety. True to the campaign, the story and visuals combined open the film as a sinister, goosebumps worthy film, but the ending fails to make the audience jump from their seat. When Suzy first arrives at the airport in an opening scene of the film, as loud crashing rain splashes around her, combined with the films dramatically terrifying score and the bold street lighting that flicked red to green, it was apparent that this was going to be a spectacular artistic movement for the horror genre.
The final scene, that supposedly ties up the films story fails to explain unanswered questions, including the main question; why are these witches murdering innocent people in such gory, gruesome ways? It is perhaps Argento’s only interest in using gory death scenes was to shock the audience. The scenes are briefly entertaining, but overall theres an empty sensation after watching the film due to the disappointing and sudden ending. After waiting for Suzy to take a heroic stand through a course of many slow scenes, Suzy only has a moment to shine in the twenty minutes of the film roughly. With some typical gore, combined with an art house type cinematography, Suspiria provides an experience that is rare within mainstream horror films. Suspiria has an aesthetic appeal that demolishes other horror films of its time for the cinematic visuals. Even if Suspiria’s plot falls gradually flat, it certainly has an elegant, creative charm that has to be one of the most enchanting horror experiences to date.