Okay, GT, it’s time! Welcome to the first discussion meeting for Absurdly Ineffective Barricade, our semi-official horror movie club. Our first film for discussion is the 1977 Dario Argento classic Suspiria.
A couple of notes on how this will work. As many of you probably know, Suspiria is the first film in a trilogy the “Three Mothers” trilogy, and there are events in later films that refer to things that happen in this movie. However, Suspiria is also a brilliant standalone, and so for the purposes of our discussion today, we’ll consider it that way. If anyone feels compelled to discuss it in light of the later two films, go ahead and set up a thread below, but let’s try to keep the bulk of the discussion on this film.
I’m going to post a few starter questions below, and then start individual threads for each question/comment. I have a whole list of questions, these are just starting points to make sure we get rolling — and anybody can obviously start new threads with stuff they were thinking about. I’m eager to see where our discussion goes. Many of my seeder questions are about gender just because it’s something I’m really interested in with regard to this movie, but no conversation is too big, small, complex, or silly, so fire away.
- What’s your favorite death scene?
- Do you think any of the other students were in on the whole coven thing, or what? (Also, was there ever an explanation about "why ballet?" or do we just assume because it's a seat of female power?)
- This is an Italian movie shot in English with an American lead, and in the opening scene we are immediately introduced to the sense that Suzy is a “stranger in a strange land.” To what extent do you think the displacement, and specifically the lack of a “familiar place,” generates the horror and tension in the movie?
- There is a great deal of tension arising from how the forces of nature come up against highly stylized and controlled imagery. In the beginning, the wind blows the window open into the beautiful architecture of the apartment building. Later, right before Daniel is killed, there is a quiet shot of wind rippling a shimmering curtain. Ballet itself is a highly stylized dance form. And if you think about the room that is ultimately the passage into the coven’s space, on one side of the room is an intricate Escher-like motif and on the other lots of garden imagery. What do you make of this? (I have SO MANY THOUGHTS, but I want to just open the floor rather than write a dissertation.)
- When Suzy and Sarah begin to figure out that the footsteps indicate movement within the house, I started thinking of “the call’s coming from inside the house!” I can’t help but think about how this is such a woman-driven movie, and the idea that terror/power is coming from within the domestic sphere presents an interesting inversion of how public/private spheres (and attendant gender stereotypes) are and were usually construed. I would argue that fear of witchcraft is essentially a fear of female power, specifically female sexual power. In what ways is the domestic turned into the powerful/wild/terrible in Suspiria? Are there other inversions in the movie that play with the dichotomy between public and private, or domestic and “wild?”
- One of my notes is “dangerous girlhood.” Do you see the movie as taking images of “girlhood” and turning them malevolent? How and why might the movie be doing this?
- How do you feel about Suzy as a character? Do you think there are certain qualities that enabled her to survive, or was it just luck/plot convenience?