“Susie, do you know anything about… witches?”
This is particularly one of the instances where I feel as if I’m ill equipped to discuss the film at hand. While it is a horror film which tends, from moment to moment, to quite literally go for the jugular and provide a sadistic desire for blood and guts it also feels like much more. It’s almost as if the bloody torture filled genre were blended with the psychological distress that’s played up in films such as Black Swan was mixed in with a David Lynch-esque visual style all to make one crazed film, and I’m not sure how to truly judge it.
On the surface the film is about Susie Bannion (Jessica Harper) who has transferred from America to a prestigious German dance academy. Circumstance after circumstance happens to lead her to believe that some sort of conspiracy is ongoing at the school as it relates to the teachers only to discover that they are a coven of witches.
For the first half of the film we watch as things get more and more odd. We see characters being pushed to their physical and mental limit and at the same time we see a few key things that queue us in to a possible obsession that the staff has with Susie.
The most striking thing about this film is its visuals. The shocking blue in the lobby of the academy, the bright red we see pushing silhouettes in the practice room as all the students sleep and the cool green that manages to serve as some sort of night light. At times it’s hard to tell if these colours, especially those shining during the night scenes, are just for the audience’s benefit or can actually be seen by the characters in the film. What’s even more troubling is assuming that they each represent something. The use of wine and blood throughout the film make me believe that red symbolizes some form of life and death, while the blue represents the unknown as it tends to appear when the film’s characters are in fear of something and discovering new things; but these are all theories that I’ve yet to confirm or rule out.
So while the film fills a cinematic hole that I love all art films that look like this to fill I feel as if it refused to fill another void that all good movies want to fill, but giving meaning to the visuals presented. The film felt like and empty well dressed package that impresses me with flair but fails to make me want more of it due to its lack of substance.