suspiria review

Hell’s Theme Song

Goblin‘s music for Suspiria belongs on any short list of the best horror scores ever devised, sitting comfortably alongside the likes of Halloween and Jaws. To hear this music is to put a stethoscope to the film’s heart and listen to its dark soul, to relive its baffling mysteries, its grisly imagery, and its meticulously designed world. Like the movie itself, this score is a perfect encapsulation of unease – whispering voices sing and speak over cold, repetitive synths, like a choir of hellish observers who are watching alongside you and know more than you ever will. And on a dime, the score can become turbulent and tribal, a percussive descent into something more primal, superstitious, and fearful.

Suspiria leans heavily on this score to fuel some of its best moments, drowning every visual with this aural cacophony and setting you on edge. In a film where character are stalked, observed, and hunted, this score is a signifier that you are not alone. Those voices are with you and they seems to be having a pretty great time at your expense.

Mysteries of the Unknown

Suspiria‘s climax feels like a series of answers to questions we never asked. Hell, we don’t even know what the questions are. But as Suzy reaches the heart of the mystery that has been killing her classmates and destroying her existence, we are treated to ghastly imagery that cannot be easily explained and a villain whose methods and goals remain baffling. The result is a film that swerves to avoid exposition at all costs. Suzy doesn’t know what’s going on, so we don’t know what’s going on. And since Suzy would rather survive her ordeal than discover whatever kind of truth lurks at the rotten core of this school, we learn surprisingly little.

And yet, Suspiria‘s climax is totally bonkers, filled with animation and wild props and insane set decoration and even a reanimated corpse wielding a blade. After 80 minutes of methodical pacing and offscreen killers and the constant suggestion of something being oh-so-wrong, Argento pushes us into the deep end and asks us to tread water in a pool of bad feelings and garish nastiness. This is what we wanted, isn’t it? To get to the bottom of things? Well, we got there. We just learned that the bottom is far deeper than we suspected. This dream isn’t going to give us easy answers.

Suspiria ends abruptly and its conclusion leaves you with countless unanswered questions about what you just witnessed. It’s reminiscent of of how countless Hammer horror films conclude – credits roll the moment Dracula is dead because what’s the point of an epilogue with the boring humans when all you really care about is the deceased villain? There could be an additional scene or two that explores the survivors and what’s left of them, but what would be the point? The credits arrive so abruptly that there can only be one conclusion: we woke up. The nightmare is over. We got out.

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