FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 28, 2019

SUSPIRIA Day 28: details

Can you believe that 31 Days of Suspiria is almost over? There are only a couple of posts left (not that, you know, October 31st will be the last day I ever talk about it or something) so I wanted to highlight some of the details both large and micromicro that have contributed to this movie ruling my world. Stuff like...

Susie and Sara breaking my heart yet again with this split-second of eye contact during Volk.

They are way past the point of no return here. Sara has been irreparably damaged, and they are both a part of something much larger than either of them, something they cannot stop whether they want to or not. But even through everything that's transpired, even in the middle of a performance, they find each other. Watching Sara wordlessly plead with Susie during the entirety of her time in Volk is completely heartrending, but this small moment kills me.

This shot.

Gorgeous. Ominous. Yes.

Klemperer leaving this newspaper advertising Volk on the train.

It's a nice bit of foreshadowing. He has no idea that that show is going to wreck his whole world.

Klemperer fastidiously dusting.

I am hoping to post about Josef and Anke before this month is through, but this is one of the touches I wanted to highlight now. He takes such care of this sacred place and it's beautiful and yes, heartbreaking. I told you Suspiria was full of tragedies!

Boutaher being cool as fuck.

I should have mentioned this moment during Griffith's suicide dinner party yesterday when Boutaher got a shout out, but I was focused on another moment. If you came away from that thinking "Okay, but is she cool, though?" I present the above photo evidence. And this is before she starts pulling from a beer bottle. Iconic.

This shot.

I know that shortly after this she rips her fucking chest open but this shot, this is the one for me. Stunning. Luca's camera loves every one of these women and it radiates.

Frau Sesame.

I just want to give a shout-out to Frau Sesame the caring and ever-reliable. In a world composed almost entirely of madness, she is always a dose of sanity. The kindness and gentleness in her voice in the epilogue, when Klemperer doesn't recognize get the feeling that they might just be okay. She's the real mother in this film.

Jessica goddamned Harper.

Okay, as I said, Josef and Anke deserve their own post. But look at her here: giving a masterclass of acting in one facial expression. We know by this point that something is up. Anke's reappearance is too good to be true. The border guards are awfully unconcerned with this couple walking through a checkpoint (a nice contrast with the bureaucracy we saw earlier in the film). But her face. She's conveying the gravity and grief and bittersweet happiness Anke would feel, but simultaneously there's another layer to it–a hint of malice, a tinge of the ruse. I know horror fans don't sleep on Jessica Harper, but this shot alone should have the world at her feet.

The breakfast scene.

Boy oh boy, the breakfast scene. The kitchen and dining room slowly fill up with Matrons as the camera moves around and through them. "Has Ended" plays while the voiceovers give us the results of the Markos/Blanc vote. It's the most erotic group breakfast I've ever seen, and I've been to Denny's after all the church people show up, so I know erotic group breakfasts!

We've got Vendegast greeting the day in her super hot racy negligée.

Pavla casually showing us how limber she is because, you know, dancing. Also if you notice the doorway in the back of the shot, you see part of a trend: nearly all of them enter the scene in pairs.

Huller swaggers into the room (with her Operation: Get Klemperer cohort Alberta) looking like she just got laid.

Balfour enters and greets Pavla by the face.

This scene is full of interesting pairs and intriguing looks. I'm not saying that the Markos Tanzgruppe is a lesbian sex coven, but also that's exactly what I'm saying. I mean...

The dinner scene.

The witches need to get the dancers under a spell for the Sabbath, but how do they do it? Not with a look or a small gesture, as we've seen them perform other spells. They do it with seduction.

Also, Caroline's pipe is a choice, no?

Mia fucking Goth.

She is truly jaw-droppingly brilliant in this movie, the real MVP. During the course of Sara's journey, she needs to channel everything: desire, fear, giddiness, worry, grief...basically the whole gamut of human emotion. More than that, she has to convincingly dance and maintain a state of undeath. She does all of it so authentically that I am constantly taken aback by every bit of her performance. I honestly cannot get through the Mutterhaus hallway scene without crying; her screams and pleas for mercy cut right through me.

(Like, seriously: the best horror movie screaming? I've seen so many horror films (duh) and the good screamers are more rare than you'd think. There are several...but Mia Goth is another level. Maybe because it's not about a man or monster chasing her–it's fear and pain and Luca really gives her plenty of time to shine. It's harrowing in ways I can't even comprehend.)

But I wanted to talk about a couple of micromoments in the cake scene, where Dr Klemperer tells her about Patricia's notebook and she tells him to stop bothering her. I'm not going to examine the way she eats that cake, because my longtime cyberpal Jason of My New Plaid Pants recently wrote a terrific piece all about that very thing over at The Film Experience. Go read it. Go read all of his "Great Moments in Horror Actressing" series. And everything else he's written!

In an interview, Goth described some of the background work she and Luca did for her character; you know, what was Sara's family like, what kind of person is she outside of the world of the movie, that type of actor stuff. The big takeaway: Sara's from a wealthy family. You get glimpses of it throughout the film–that wardrobe– but the entire cake scene really drives it home. I love how she conveys it through the tiniest of gestures, like the daintily raised fingers on her right hand as she eats, never quite resting on the plate or table:

Or the very well-mannered way she wipes up a few crumbs as she plots her escape from this nightmare meeting:

Those kinds of details can't be taught. They're not instructions given by the director. Okay, sometimes they are, but in those cases the moments come away as disingenuous. Sometimes you see the actress doing these things and they feel deliberate and inauthentic. In those cases, you can almost hear her process, you know what I mean? "On this word, I will touch the glass of water." That sort of thing.

The gestures Goth does here are natural and nuanced because she's so invested in the character that raising her fingers or wiping the crumbs very particularly become second nature. You don't always think about the way you wipe crumbs, do you? It's just how you wipe crumbs.

The planets definitely aligned for a lot of people on Suspiria. However she came to it, Mia Goth really connected with Sara Simms and thus, so do we. It's amazing. She's still so young, I can't wait to see all the great work she's going to do in what I hope is a long, long career.

This statue in the Mutterhaus art gallery.

Okay, I apologize: the Markos Tanzgruppe isn't a lesbian sex coven.

It's a creepy lesbian sex coven. But then, all the best ones are, I suppose.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Omg that glance during Volk was so erotic but kinda sick because Sara is not there by choice.
Mia Goth is tremendous in her role, you're right, she has to convey all the feelings. Her eyes also do so much work, it's not just a matter of Luca saying to her "Mia, move your eyes and look confused or scared" it looks like a woman named Sara is living and thinking through this what the fuck scenario playing before her---Mia makes everything she says and does seems natural to her character.
I think it's hilarious you see the coven just pairing off nightly to horse around. Can you imagine glasses witch being paired with let's say dj witch and nobody gets to finish because they just spent the whole time crying.