Tag Archives: Dario Argento

Vortex (2022) Review



Time: 136 Minutes
Dario Argento as Lui
Françoise Lebrun as Elle
Alex Lutz as Stéphane
Director: Gaspar Noé

A retired psychiatrist with dementia and a struggling author with a heart condition live their final days together in an apartment.

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Gaspar Noe is one of the more notable infamous and provocative directors, known for Irreversible, Enter the Void and more recently Climax. His latest film Vortex did interest me, partly because I had heard that it is relatively subdued compared to his past work. I watched the movie for myself, and I can confirm that this is true. Make no mistake though, this is very much a Gaspar Noe film, and one for that matter, one of his best.


As said, Vortex is subdued for a Gaspar Noe movie. It does away from the extreme violence and in your face visuals that his films are known for, and this is his tamest movie to date. That being said, it might be one of his more disturbing, gruelling and bleak films, with it focussing on an elderly couple with dementia. Throughout the movie, there is a real existential dread as we follow the two elderly protagonists. While I was initially intrigued with the way Gaspar Noe decided to tell the story (which I’ll get to later), it was hard for me to get into at first. It is very drawn out, particularly near the beginning. At 2 hours and 20 minutes, I think its a bit too long and could’ve been a little shorter. However, it picked up for me from the point where the couple’s son first appears. Like with Noe’s other films, Vortex contains familiar themes of life and death, and with particular emphasis on morality. It is a grim watch but it’s still a very thoughtful and human movie, and an emotionally devastating portrait of dementia. While there’s a few of his movies I haven’t seen yet, it’s safe to say that this is Noe’s most contemplative, mature and personal film yet (even more so after hearing that beforehand he nearly died from a brain haemorrhage).


The cast is very limited, it mostly comes down to Dario Argento (yes, the director of movies like Suspiria and Deep Red) and Francoise Lebrun, playing the older husband and wife respectively. Their nuanced and real performances added so much; helping to bring across their characters in a believable and heartbreaking way. Alex Lutz is equally great in his scenes as their son.


Gaspar Noe’s direction and style isn’t nearly as explosive or in your face as his other films, not to say that its standard by any means. With Noe’s movies, he usually has some notable stylistic or narrative technique throughout. Irreversible had its scenes played in reverse, and Enter the Void was first person. Vortex is no exception, almost all the movie’s shots are split across two separate screens. Its usually showing two different perspectives on these split screens, the husband in one screen and the wife in the other. This choice is to keep these two characters separate, conveying that although they live in the same house, they practically live in separate worlds. The shots have longer takes and brief cuts, that combined with the relatively minimalist approach helps you feel grounded and in the moment. It’s definitely a bold stylistic choice, and it definitely does convey what Noe was going for, but it can be a little distracting. The long takes are impressive but do admittedly get tiring after a while.


Vortex is a bit overlong, but overall is an impactful and painful yet humanistic and contemplative film about mortality. It’s uniquely directed and benefits from the amazing performances from Dario Argento, Francoise Lebrun and Alex Lutz. One of Gaspar Noe’s most restrained films, and one of his best. If you haven’t watched any of his movies, I can say with confidence that it is his most tame content wise, but isn’t an easy watch at all. Great film, but not one I would want to watch again.


Suspiria (1977) Review

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence
Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion
Stefania Casini as Sara
Flavio Bucci as Daniel
Miguel Bosé as Mark (dubbed in the English release by Gregory Snegoff)
Alida Valli as Miss Tanner
Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc
Udo Kier as Dr. Frank Mandel (dubbed by Frank von Kugelgen)
Barbara Magnolfi as Olga (dubbed by Carolyn De Fonseca)
Eva Axén as Pat Hingle
Director: Dario Argento

Suzy (Jessica Harper) travels to Germany to attend ballet school. When she arrives, late on a stormy night, no one lets her in, and she sees Pat (Eva Axén), another student, fleeing from the school. When Pat reaches her apartment, she is murdered. The next day, Suzy is admitted to her new school, but has a difficult time settling in. She hears noises, and often feels ill. As more people die, Suzy uncovers the terrifying secret history of the place.

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Months ago I watched Suspiria in preparation of the remake coming out later this year. Now in the month of Halloween, I decided to give my thoughts on it now. I had been hearing about Suspiria for the longest time, it had always been called one of the best horror movies of all time. I wasn’t even sure what the movie is, I know it was a horror movie from the 70s involving dancing and some very distinct colours but that’s it. Having seen it though, I can see why this movie is so beloved, with its visual style and look, some iconic scenes, so much great things are in this movie. Some aspects don’t work as well but the pros more than outweigh the cons.

You get the feeling that something is not right from the very beginning of the movie, and all the way to the end this movie really had my attention. I guess you could say that Suspiria is style over substance and you’d have a strong argument there, yet it actually works. Despite this, there is some exposition which can be a little too much at times but is a minor issue and didn’t bother me too much. Also, it is worth noting that originally the director wanted to use 12 year olds but the studio understandably didn’t agree to it to avoid controversy, so it was rewritten to be in their 20s. I bring this up because there are at times with some of the dialogue where it does feel a little childish and clearly some of the original dialogue still remain from earlier drafts. Horror movies don’t really affect me that much but I will say that Suspiria really did a great job at getting under my skin. Suspiria is just under an hour and 40 minutes long and it really works for me. It can feel drawn out at times and I can see why some would find it to really drag, but personally I was so caught up with the atmosphere and the mystery that I wasn’t really a problem for me.

There isn’t a ton of things to the characters really, especially when it comes to the people running the school, they particularly come across as being very one note. One thing that makes judging the acting really difficult is the fact that many of the actors are multi lingual and didn’t necessarily speak the same language, so a lot of dubbing was done (more on that later). It can also explain some of the disconnect with the actors with each other because it didn’t look like they knew what the other was saying (and that’s because a lot of the time that’s the case). Fortunately quite a lot of the movie is style over substance that you are able to forget about it for the most part. The acting isn’t really that great but I thought it was good enough for the movie. Jessica Harper was likable in her role of the lead character, the same went for her friend played by Stefania Casini.

Director Dario Argento’s work is a big part of why the movie works, he really creates such a fantastic atmosphere with the lighting, cinematography, music, pretty much everything. One of Suspiria’s highlights is the look of the movie, the cinematography by Luciano Tovoli is absolutely breathtaking. There are so many neon colours, red, blue, green, it is an absolute feast for the eyes, even if you aren’t super into horror movies but love watching movies with great colours and cinematography, Suspiria is kind of worth a watch. A lot of the time it doesn’t necessarily make sense as to why the colours are like that, but you can look past it. The visual effects are pretty dated and don’t really hold up well today. The music by Goblin is great and hypnotic, really adding to the tone and atmosphere of the movie. However I think it goes a little too loud at points, to the point where it gets distracting and overshadows the rest of the scene. The violence is graphic and stylised, really memorable, a lot of the practical effects are great. The editing doesn’t always work, like the transitions between songs are really jarring and sudden and cut off. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of dubbing, a lot of it is downright terrible but it’s fine if you don’t look closely at the actors’ lips.

Suspiria definitely lives up to all its praise of being one of the most iconic horror movies. It does have some dated aspects and some issues, but on the whole I think it’s a really solid horror thriller. As previously mentioned, Suspiria is having a remake which will release in about a month. I will admit I wasn’t really hyped for it (not because I don’t think the original can’t be touched, because it does show its age), all the polarising reactions are actually making me curious. As long as it tries being its own thing while staying true enough to the original that it can be justified being called a remake, I think it’ll be something unique.