Friday, September 1, 2023

Suspiria / **** (1977)

The first thing to assault us is the music. A haunting, odd melodic blend of low menacing synths underneath joyful chimes harkens the memory to the days of sinister fairy tales, when beautiful maidens wandered aimlessly through a world quietly plotting to end them. Almost on cue, the chime is followed by the arrival of attractive Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), who wanders an airport terminal after a long flight overseas brings her to Italy. Notice the space between her and the glass doors of the exit briefly seems exaggerated, as if they are moving away with each step. When the doors close, the musical chords drop to total silence. She moves in, now faster and with more determination, until they open, allowing the chime to begin again as she finally crosses the threshold into the stormy night. The music overwhelms her, as if it were not music at all, but a sonic enchantment transporting her out of the safety of one world for the uncertainty of the next. For Dario Argento, the enamored filmmaker, this is merely an overture in a decadent urban retelling of Snow White. But for the many admirers (and curious onlookers) of the great “Suspiria,” it is the first of many important moments in the most visually striking horror film they may ever see.