“Suspiria” is a vibrant, methodical nightmare, crafted by a master of cinematography and color. It tells the tale of Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), who has moved from New York to a prestigious European dance academy, where every student or teacher she meets is more foreboding than the last. As the night comes though, more tragedies befall the academy, including maggots raining down on the students and murder, all while the teachers and headmistress start showing their distaste for Suzy. One of Suzy’s friends, Sara (Stefania Casini), can’t figure out how she keeps hearing footsteps in the middle of the night, and starts to suspect that these murders aren’t mere coincidence, but the work of witches.
“Suspiria” owes a lot of its inspiration to German expressionist movies, with many scenes where light and shadow are used to brilliant effect, along with haunting camera angles, especially as it nears its terrifying climax. The film is has a slow but satisfying buildup as information is gradually fed to the audience, building up the dread, all while the horrifying atmosphere hangs over every scene, dripping like a slimy haunted house – it doesn’t always scare you, but it makes you feel like something terrifying could happen at any moment. It is a visual feast, with the strangest uses of colors I’ve ever seen, but each used so well that it compliments the strange mystery of the dance academy. As far as Italian horror movies go, “Suspiria” is the best one I’ve seen to this day.
Final Grade: A-