The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Archive for the ‘Suspiria’ Category

It was the reddest blood I’ve ever seen

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Does a horror movie need to be scary? Recently this topic has been up for discussion in the Filmspotting community, after Alex Thompson threw out the question:

“So what defines horror, then, if not the intent to scare?”

He got a couple of replies:

“There are so many different types of horror that nothing really defines it. Some horror films do just want to scare, others want to have fun, others want to be gory, others just want to be atmospheric, others want to to be artsy, and so on, and so on. Limiting horror to “it just wants to scare” is pigeonholing a genre that quite often is going for something far removed from a scare.” (Bill Thompson)

“It, like all genres, is a collection of recurring themes, tropes, icons and ideas. It’s one of the more flexible and diverse genres, which means that it’s hard to categorize what those things are. “ (James Blake Ewing)

 Avoiding horror movies
I’m probably not the right one to give an opinion about this considering how few horror movies I’ve watched in my days. I just never was a big fan of the genre.  I’ve watched and enjoyed movies such as Alien (which as well could be labelled as sci-fi), The Shining and Pan’s Labyrinth, but on the whole, the label “horror” is quite off-putting to me.

It’s just like with roller coasters in an amusement park: I’m too easily scared and nauseated, and perhaps not all comfortable of not having the control. The question pops into my head: “Why would I voluntarily expose myself to something which main purpose is to make me feel sick? Isn’t it nicer to NOT feel sick?”

Lately I’ve started to question this stance though. I’ve began to realize how much great movies I miss out, and I’ve also given the definition a second thought. And what if my fellow bloggers are right? Perhaps some horror can have other intentions than to scare you out of your mind?

Plot like a porn movie
With this in mind I threw myself into Dario Argento’s Suspiria from 1977 with the mission to educate myself a little, putting up a mind as open as possible..

The plot was laughable, at about the same level of complicity as any porn movie: Girl goes to a German boarding school for dancers. It turns out that there’s something EVIL going on. Girl escapes or doesn’t escape from it (no spoiler.)  No efforts were made to make me the slightest invested in the characters. Not in the story, nor in the acting.

I couldn’t care less if they died and I didn’t get scared, not even a bit, and I can’t imagine anyone over six years old would be. Unless you’re a) drunk or b) on a date and try to get closer, using the scariness as an excuse for hugging. I was neither.

But this didn’t take away from Suspiria that it was quite an experience to watch – not as an ordinary film, a story that involve you, taking you from spot a to spot b, but as an art installation. There was the score – a repetitive little tune that got under my skin and I couldn’t quite get rid of. And above all –there were the colours. The blood wasn’t the most believable I’ve seen, but definitely the reddest. And in combination with the intense blue, yellow, green colours, the lightening and the camera angles, the effect is stunning. I can see how much inspiration generations of music video makers must have gotten from it.

Beautiful painting
I wouldn’t say that the movie was good in the normal sense, but it was beautiful and fascinating as long as I watched it as a painting and not as a film.

It was almost enough to make me forgive a real pet peeve of mine that this movie had: lack of sync between lip movements and the sound. Apparently Suspiria was originally made to be dubbed, so they didn’t care about recording the sound during the shooting. To me that’s unfortunately a deal breaker. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. So in the end my final grade will be lukewarm. But I can definitely recommend it to anyone, for the sake of the experience. Not a scary one though.

Suspiria (Dario Argento, IT, 1977) My rating: 3,5/5

Written by Jessica

October 18, 2011 at 1:00 am

Posted in Suspiria