“Bad luck isn’t brought by broken mirrors, but by broken minds.”
I’ve begun a new policy when watching movies: no trailers (to the best of my ability), and no Rotten Tomatoes. So far, it’s been great. I felt something I haven’t felt in a long time seeing Baby Driver yesterday, completely in the dark about the movie, only knowing the director and a couple associated actors. There’s a sort of curse that goes along with being “in the know” about upcoming releases, and over the last several years, it seems that every frame of a movie has started floating around someone’s website before the movie is even released. I’d really recommend trying this policy for yourself, if only for one movie, because I truly believe that the fewer expectations you have, the better you’ll enjoy a film.
How, then, could I implement this policy while watching 1001 of the most important movies ever made? Well, I don’t think I can. By the very nature of the list, a high Rotten Tomatoes score can be assumed. I do keep away from trailers, but it’s a bit saddening that I won’t really “discover” many of these movies. They’ve been curated for me, heaped upon a pedestal by brave pioneers of audiences past. While it comforts me that I can be one of those pioneers for newer or more obscure movies moving forward, expectations are rampant with a beast like the 1001. This brings me to Suspiria.
Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece, so goes everyone I’ve heard talk about the film. Suspiria has come up on countless podcasts and “most underrated horror” articles. It seems anyone who knows a little bit about horror will hail it as a masterpiece. When there’s no part of my brain signaling “Hey, maybe this will suck,” it’s hard to watch the movie on even terms. Is Suspiria among the greatest horror movies ever made? Eh, I don’t know.
Already on paragraph four and I’m still soapboxing. I think I’ve been meaning to have this talk for a while now, and any number of movies could fit the mold. Suspiria just feels like the perfect example. I really liked this movie, but in another universe, I think I could have loved it. A universe where I didn’t watch “the greatest movies of all time” religiously and simple stumbled upon it at an obscure theater in the middle of the night, spending the rest of my life hailing its greatness from rooftops, fighting the good fight. There are no blogs in this universe, you see. No podcasts. No Rotten Tomatoes.
I’m glad that movies are curated for me, and I stand by the purpose of this blog. And there are movies that rise above expectations and blow me away despite expectations. Suspiria didn’t quite hit the mark, but that’s not to say it’s a bad movie. In fact, I’ll probably enjoy it more with future viewings. Patrick Bromley, a critic that I enjoy reading, claims that you see a movie for what you want it to be on the first viewing. The second viewing, he claims, is when you see it for what it is. I don’t have the time to watch 1001 movies to begin with, let alone watch them all twice. But I hope to return to Suspiria one day because I think it deserves it.
Because I still owe the movie many praises for the delightful moments it brought to me, I’ll give the following notes in its favor: This is a beautiful movie. Some movies are hailed for their color palette, but I don’t think I’ve seen an actual color palette of such rigid adherence to visual flair in any movie before. The story is thrilling and suspenseful, but it plays out with enough absurdity that nothing really hinges on its somewhat underwhelming twist.
Jessica Harper brings a powerful performance as the protagonist Suzy Harper, an American ballet student who travels to Germany to attend a prestigious dance academy, uncovering dark secrets upon her arrival. Her voice is deep and powerful, and she commands your attention whenever in the frame, reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver in the Alien films. The supporting cast is in tune with Argento’s twisted vision, and the film works as an unconventional, deeply resonant work of horror.
While I hijacked this review to lay down some thoughts, I believe those thoughts were critical to my viewing of Suspiria and will linger throughout the rest of my film Odyssey. Coincidentally, they’re remaking Suspiria later this year, so perhaps a wider audience will revisit this original film. When they do, I hope they steer clear of any hype that may befall it. Though they probably won’t.
Films Left to Watch: 872