A Look at Suspira

Fear resides in half-seen things, shadows without bodies, flickers in your periphery. It's in the primal place that sends our heartbeat racing and leaves us in a cold sweat. And now, fear lurks in Suspira, too. Spawned by the Dreadful Press laboratory, the home of Sabat, it stares into the void where grotesque, supernatural and unnerving monsters in all their forms live and puts them onto paper with an intellectual eye for our own enjoyment (can it be that?). Could you find a better hand to hold to navigate this darkness?

From the outset, Suspira is ethereal. It is textured, lightweight and unthreatening in size. You would be very much forgiven for parting its pages benignly. Its indented title evades perception, and only by touch and slant of light do you see it there. A swirling cosmos of white dots spin on the cover into the shape of wide jaws, screaming or ready to bite.

Within, illustrations of conjoined babies wail, damsels swoon at the sight of menacing monsters and Hammer Horror headlines assure you ‘It Eats You Alive!’ Despite the obvious grotesque and uncanny characters, an insidious fear can be fathomed via its repetition of dots which conjure faces slowly from the white. Photographs are bleached with a silver sheen which skews perception and interpretation, making whatever they portray seem alive in its shimmering movement.

Editor Valentina Egoavil Medina serves an eclectic spread to intrigue and educate. This magazine is not a slasher flick. It luxuriates in slow horror with the quiet concentration of a psychopath, steadily unpicking stereotypes to uncover our own fears as a society. As Andrea Subissati says in her interview, "...horror is a giant mirror. The definition of the ‘monster’ is 100% socially constructed and often a reflection of our own anxieties and apprehensions." Quite like a ghost which haunts, horror is always waiting in the wings of our own psyches for when we are most vulnerable.

Horror, as an arguably overlooked aspect of creative culture, is a zone in which outcasts can dwell, lending itself perfectly to a feminist viewpoint. The topics in Suspira cover mental health, otherness and gender, with articles ranging from struggling with your own inner demons to the historical demonisation of Julia Pastrana. Because of her schizophrenia Cecilia McGough is able to describe real hallucinations of clowns, ghosts and giant spiders. Discussing them brings to light our own fear of the unknown and the unusual which causes us to be immediately, instinctively repelled, and without question. Medina fully utilises the genre with all its many faces, unflinching at each unveiling, like Dr Jekyll embracing Mr Hyde.

Suspira is the advocate the undervalued horror genre deserves. The magazine bestows intellect and encouragement for exploration without boundaries. It looks for the metaphorical behind the monster. Rather than diminishing the frightfulness of Dracula, The Wolf-Man and The Mummy, it reasserts their legacy. The fears from which they were born are still alive today, sending shivers down our spines with every new guise.

Libby Borton


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