Rev Fest 2013 – Goblin Plays Suspiria

Goblin Plays Suspiria

Suspiria (R)

Directed by: Dario Argento

Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini

Four and a half stars

I remember as a kid waking up with butterflies in my stomach on the days I knew I going to the movies. I was giddy with excitement, having barely slept the night before. Going to the cinema was a special treat and an event, particularly for my most anticipated releases. These intense  feelings rarely revisit as an adult. A trip to the cinema doesn’t feel like a trip to Disneyland anymore. The closest thing has been seeing classics or personal favourites on the big screen that I couldn’t see on initial release.

Heading to Goblin Plays Suspiria, I still didn’t have those feelings. I had tried to watch Suspiria a couple of times but my enjoyment was greatly diminished by the distractingly wretched dubbing. Sure Dario Argento’s film looked pretty, but I could not understand how anyone could get past the audio never syncing with the visual, let alone label it a classic horror film. However, I had an inkling that witnessing Goblin live-score the highly regarded Suspiria at Revelation Perth International Film Festival would be something worth seeing, even if I still couldn’t find merit in this film. I may not have arrived with butterflies, but I left the session with them fluttering in my knotted stomach. The experience made me excited by cinema again like it had when I was 10 years old.


The quintet positioned themselves at their instruments to a round of hearty applause by the enthusiastic audience in an almost packed cinema. A quick question revealed that about half of them were to witness Suspiria for the first time. From the rain drenched opening in which fish out of water American Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) touches down in Munich, Germany to commence classes at a fancy ballet school, Goblin’s signature score sent shivers with its booming, nerve shredding melody.

Argento sustains an almost unbearable level of suspense from the get go as Suzy uncovers creepy goings on within the school, starting with her first night when she witnesses a distressed fellow student fleeing into the woods. The girl is brutally murdered, sparking a mystery as to who did it and why. Later, maggots infest the attic, forcing the students to sleep in the dance hall and Suzy is forced to eat her specially made dinner in her room, away from the others. As Suzy and her equally curious friend Sara (Stefania Casini) try to unravel the clues, someone on campus does their best to make sure the truth remains a secret.


Drenched in bright, bold, psychedelic colours, Suspiria delivers one beautifully haunting and disturbing image after another. The short, occasional bursts of graphic violence are all the more shocking with the vivid red of the blood popping off the screen. Boosting the atmosphere of the piece was Goblin’s score reverberating through the theatre and vibrating through the floor under our feet. It was an utterly immersive experience that could not be captured with even the best state of the art home theatre package. At times the score overwhelmed, drowning out some of the softer spoken dialogue, but it was never intrusive enough to leave the audience baffled as to what was going on.

Once the terror was over, the audience erupted into three successive rounds of applause with many getting to their feet. Goblin had thoroughly thrilled their fans and in the process acquired new ones, including this reviewer. I felt like a kid at Disneyland all over again and was reminded of the thrilling possibilities of cinema. A festival, nay, a cinema going highlight.

Goblin Plays Suspiria was performed as part of Revelation Perth International Film Festival.

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