DIRECTOR: LUCA GUADAGNINO
WRITER: DARIO ARGENTO, DARLA NICOLODI, DAVID KAJGANICH
STARS: DAKOTA JOHNSON, TILDA SWINTON, DORIS HICK
2 HOURS 32 MINUTES
REVIEWED BY FERNANDO
Set in the almost dystopic past of 1977 Berlin, it doesn’t take long for the Suspiria remake, re-imagining, rehashing, what have you, to visually and sonically hypnotize its viewer and set itself a tone. Stumbling to figure out if this film is a “remake” or a “re-imagining” is not hard to do. The film flies far and away from the original’s appropriately claustrophobic setting and heroine centric screenplay of a new dancer at a creepy ballet academy, and gives us an expanded view of the world the dancers and instructors live in.
As Director Luca Guadagnino has proven in the past with his film Call Me By Your Name, he succeeds in blending a certain musical artist’s flourishes with the film in a smooth and subtle fashion, then — using Sufjan Stevens, and now — with Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame.
The equally chilling and infectious soundtrack provided by Yorke is revealed to be diegetic to the character’s experience and integral to the films storyline, making for an immersive experience for the ears as well. The film tiptoes forward in chapters. Every new section is bestowed an eerie and foreboding name that seems to foreshadow what may come to head in the following act. Following for the most part the character of Susie Bannion, played by Dakota Johnson, we reflect her characters feelings of arriving to a new country, meeting new friends and figuring out the mysterious parade of eccentric staff that inhabit the new school. It is important to note that the film is almost entirely acted by women.
The character of Dr. Josef Klemperer, one of the few men in the movie, is played by Tilda Swinton, an interesting choice but one that ultimately made the character feel stilted; perhaps that was intentional. Swinton plays a total of three different characters in the film, each as different as the one before it, which isn’t surprising seeing as how Guadagnino has frequently worked with the Academy Award winning actress. The cavalcade of sinister mentors and staff are incredibly enjoyable and used perfectly throughout the story, which is incredibly lucky as an audience member given the two-and-a-half-hour runtime of the film. The pictures lengthy duration is understandably a hurdle for any casual movie-goer, but if you’ve come to see a worthy and almost BladeRunner 2049 version of a Giallo classic, you’re in store for a treat! Just as a fair warning to all Argento purists, this film was not made by the gloved hand of our missed master of seventies Italian horror, but it was made by a fellow compatriot with a good eye and even better intentions.
A GRUMPY SECOND TAKE BY JEREMIAH
Sorry. Even after letting it marinate, I can't give Suspiria a pass for bolting on plot-lines that mostly amounted to nothing more than further subtextual talking points at best. The film didn't need them. Not one bit. And as I scrambled to piece together what was happening at the end — who was who and what was what — I missed out on what should have been one of the wildest gut punches to come from the genre in forever. The visual onslaught, the frenzy, the insanity, all of what occurred at the tail end of that final act was robbed by the narrative. I was dizzy by the end of it, a bit frustrated, and I hate that it was all for the wrong reasons.
And to think, this new iteration obliterates the original on nearly every aspect of film production, save maybe aesthetic creativity. Argento's bombast is still preferred in this regard, but even then new Suspiria is a stunner, employing a more calculated, more controlled presentation. It's also often very cold and oppressive, perfect given the shooting location, historical context, and subject matter. The core story is also vastly improved, and much preferred to the original's vague scattering of plot-lines. I was incredibly thrilled to find my suspicions confirmed, with the art of dance itself becoming a sort of conduit for witchcraft manipulation. A far better use of what felt like a criminally dismissed aspect of the original. The dance is what grounds the story, and adds a much needed stroke of plausibility to it all. This Suspiria is dressed to feel far more realistic than Argento's, and as a result, far scarier.
If only it didn't have on three layers of clothing, it'd be able to dance more effectively.