21 March 2011

Clarky's Review: Suspiria

Reviewing this film has been very difficult. There are aspects of this film that I really admire but I wouldn't necessarily say that I enjoyed this movie and I couldn't tell you what happened. Effectively this is an arthouse horror film, which is its greatest strength and weakness at the same time.

Every shot looks absolutely gorgeous. The lighting and set design is incredible, with at least 90% of the film bathed in the colour red. Almost every shot is also framed in such a way that your eye is drawn to something near the edge of the screen, increasing the sense that something sinister is lurking in the background and is about to jump out.

There are some really tense moments in this film, but overall the storyline is so difficult to follow that in the end it is impossible to get involved within the story and really care about Suzy.

I did particularly enjoy the opening voice over and the first 5 minutes and the closing 5 minutes. In between I found it pretty hard going, and whilst there were gorgeous shots there wasn't much to keep the viewer involved in the way of a storyline or plot development, with some characters disappearing almost as soon as they appear.

However, there are two death scenes out with these 10 minutes which were quite effective. I did enjoy how long it took to draw the scene out where the pianist is killed, really wringing the tension out of the scene. The build up to the death of Sara was also effective but the death itself didn't really do it for me.

I'm not a fan of gorno but it was clear that Sara was rolling around in wire, rather than barbed wire. I'm aware it would have been difficult to have the actress rolling around in barbed wire, or have a decent looking prop. But this was almost laughable. Given what had come before I think it would have been easy to make this scene uncomfortable. A couple of quick cut aways to some flesh getting caught or tugged by the barbs, then slowly tightening round an appendage before tearing some flesh open, all the while cutting back to the wide shot of Sara rolling around would have been in keeping with the other death scenes and made it very uncomfortable.

There are certainly a lot of discussion points within this film that did improve my enjoyment. There seem to be a number of recurring motifs including reflections, running water, light being reflected back in to the camera before a death and the colour red. Although given that the entire film seems to contain the colour red I began to wonder if it was a motif as it infiltrated every scene. Its strange it almost lost some of its resonance as it was so over exposed.

Finally, it has to be said that the effect of the score (by Goblin) cannot be understated. Without it this film would not be nearly as unsettling. A little like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre there is no let up in unsettling and uncomfortable noises that put you on the edge of your seat throughout the films running time. However, unlike The Texas Chain Saw Massacre this is more like a typical score, granted not one you would ever listen to, but its not just sound design it is a musical score. In fact this film could almost have been silent with no dialogue and just had the score playing over the top. The storyline would have probably made as much sense and still been as creepy.

Not a perfect film, but it is perfectly shot and does throw up a lot of questions as to what the relevance of a number things on screen relate to. Unfortunately the result of this type of film can go one way or the other for the viewer. You either get obsessed with what the film means and go an investigate and read everything you can about the film in order to gain a deeper understanding of the film or you have no interest in what is happening.

Immediately after the film I was consumed with what had happened and wanted to find out about the film. Now writing the review I realise I've not done this and also found it hard to remember what actually happened in this film. I wholly put this down to the fact that I just was not that involved in the storyline and couldn't connect with the characters at all.

It is certainly worth a watch and I'm glad that Ally brought it to the table otherwise I would never have seen it. It is a surreal, gorgeously shot and atmospheric film, but ultimately it feels shallow and unconnected and is definitely a case of style over substance in my opinion. I don't know if I would watch it again, even to get a deeper understanding of what actually happened, but I would maybe give another Argento film a shot as there is enough here to have piqued my interest.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.