If you ask me, the horror genre is over-saturated with garbage. If you have the time, it's a matter of knowing where to look to find the goods. In Suspiria's case, you didn't have to look very hard. The buzz around this film has been heavy. And I'm here to tell you, it did not disappoint.
Evil lurks in the heart of a world-renowned ballet company. An evil that has its sights on possessing the entire troupe.
To say this is a polarizing film would be an understatement. Either you'll love it or be sprinting towards an exit. With a run-time of 152 minutes which is significantly longer than Argento's 98 minute classic, one may feel overwhelmed. I, however, did not. I felt it was a punishing, and emotionally draining look into witchcraft. Which I was totally fine with. Especially when it's accompanied with a creepy score by the masterful Thom Yorke.
Gaudagnino and screenwriter David Kagjanich present their vision in six-acts and an epilogue. Dakota Johnson nails Susie Bannion, whom is a sheltered Mennonite from Ohio. She arrives in late Seventies Berlin to attend the renowned Helena Markos Dance Academy. The audience is surrounded by German history. Between the Nazi era and Berlin Wall fall (time jumping), talk about atmospheric unsettlement. Point is, outside, danger is at every turn. And inside the academy, one's level of "safe" isn't improved. This is where Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) enlists Susie to perform in Volk. The dance requires such core strength and muscular writhing that a mistake in choreography could lead to injury. Swinton absolutely murders the roll. Offering an intensity that reminded me of a young Tom Hardy in his breakout roll in Bronson. This will come into play when she postures to lead a revolt against the undoubtedly unmotherly Mother Markos. That was a mouthful. But you get it.
The ever talented Swinton actually showed up earlier in the film and you may have missed it. (Unless you spoil everything for yourself by reading every damn thing you can about a film.) Probably because she is heavily covered by prosthetics to portray Dr. Josef Klemperer. Currently, he is the doctor is treating Patricia Hingle (Chloe Grace Moretz). She is a student at the academy who tells him that witchcraft is afoot. And that if the witches find out she's trying to escape and/or blow their cover they will, "Hollow her out and eat her cunt on a plate." It is at this moment we begin our free fall into a seemingly neverending darkness.
There are several times during Suspiria where it truly feels like you're succumbing to witchcraft. Be it the expertly crafted dances, the macabre lighting, or even the almost hallucinatory editing. Gaudagnino's vision is so precise that its hard not to envision him as a warlock when he's not making films.
If you're familiar with the original, I don't see how you wouldn't be able to enjoy this beautifully demented upgrade by director Luca Guadagnino.
Suspiria expands to 250 theaters in the US this weekend! See it if you can!
Poster by Sara Deck