Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Suspiria

HAUNTED BALLERINAS! IN TUTUS!
Ok, yes, the premise kinda...well, ok, it sucks. See, there's this dance school, full of dancers -- some of them are German or Russian or something -- and, uh, there's this...dude? killing them...once or twice. And it turns out that there's a bunch of...witches...scary...rawr.

Listen. You do not watch this movie for the story, alright? Just push that shit out of your mind right now. Forget all about your cute little expository scenes. Disregard your petty denouements. Just watch the fucking movie, because there's really only two things to pay attention to, and that's light and sound, which are, arguably, the movie's only two characters.

Truth be told, after I watched Suspiria, I found myself asking, "Wait, what just happened? Why was this important?" But it didn't matter. The movie is so artistically crafted that it will make you feel uncomfortable even when you virtually no reason to. Throughout the entire film, multi-colored lights penetrate every scene, in what could almost be considered a nauseating way, but it instead makes you just feel tense. Everything is just bathed in red and green and only on rare occasions will you see sunlight or even plain darkness. The end result is that everything is fractured by beams of light: When half the room is red and half the room is green, you feel like you're inside two very small rooms instead of one medium-sized room. Towards the end, the differently-colored lights made me feel tense almost automatically, in a very Pavlov type of way.

The second thing that really draws you into Suspiria is the sound, which only occurs in three forms: talking, "music" and complete, ear-deafening, gut-wrenching silence. I say "music", because that's the closest thing it can be...I guess, but really it's just unnerving noise. It's like a choir of chronic smokers swallowed a rock band and then tried to sing. It's the kind of noise that you wish would stop because it makes your skin crawl, and just when it's driving you insane, the music stops dead, and the only thing you can hear is the now-frantic panting and desperate clawing of a victim trying to escape, which is way worse and a thousand times more frightening than the music.

The body count is never terribly high, but when you see blood, man you see blood. I'm not sure if it's because of the quality of effects at the time (although I doubt it), or it was purposeful, but the blood in the movie is awfully red. So red, that you might even say to yourself, "Wow, that's pretty," and then vomit in disgust.

Rarely was I ever frightened in any true sense of the word, but I was pretty goddamn tense throughout the whole thing, even though I didn't care a thing about the characters or the plot. If you're any kind of horror movie fan, especially of the slasher genre, rent this. If you're at all interested on the effect that light and sound have on an audience, for god's sake buy this movie and study it.
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