Suspiria

Argento’s original Suspiria is undoubtedly one of his finest and stylistically gorgeous films to date. A remake announcement ruffled a few feathers of fans who held the original highly on the alter of fandom. But, rest assured that this remake is a masterpiece on its own terms using its own legs.

We are introduced to Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) a young student of dance who arrives at a world-renowned Tanz dance company in Germany. Much like Jessica Harper’s Bannion, she arrives with dreams and hopes intact and with hungry eyes. These two versions of Bannion are rarely ever so comparable in any other instance in this film, but it’s was nice that it starts in familiar territory.

Susie takes on the role of the student under the watchful gaze of her instructors, but begins to find more than she bargained for in both Stanz and in herself leading us down a hell of a path filled with well-choreographed dance, intense gore and twists along the way.

Suspiria takes place against conflict and unease of 1977 Berlin, and the soon to be changed face of Europe. A whole lot of connotation is placed on that timespan including the Baader-Mienhof bombings being mentioned in TV chatter, as well as the politics of the dance studio and their rank. A false democracy and power grab are at work in both arenas and it’s a really intelligent ideal to put the narrative inline with.

A ritual featuring an ousted member of the dance studio being bent, broken and violently contorted, is one of the first real reveals of how much more this film is going for the witch thing. It isn’t subtle and this sequence, edited together with a beautiful dance sequence is intensely brutal and sets the precedent of how this film is going to handle the dark magic aspects, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Whereas Argento’s Suspiria teased the idea of what the films narrative truly was within the surreal, outside of a cringe worthy moment of Udo Kier over exposition, this one doesn’t dance around with the mystery whatsoever. You are fully aware that this is a coven, and even the idea of The Three Mothers is revealed fairly early on. It allows for exploration into other areas of interest that on some volumes are far more interesting.

Dakota Johnson and cast are a terrific ensemble and perfect to move Luca’s dark magic in new and macabre ways, taking a few twists and turns in terms of familiar character direction. A very unexpected detour of direction in particular pushes Mia Goth in new and interesting ways, further setting this version apart from Argento’s film.

Director Luca Guadagnino’s vision is years in the making and absolutely sings its own wonderful song. The film is gorgeous in its own special way, this vision focuses more on muted tones, rather than big gel lit set pieces. Guadangnino isn’t interested in big slasher set pieces either, instead he focuses on emotional resonance and the violent elements of the supernatural.

Thom Yorke’s score worked for me, carrying a grounded, haunting weight to Guadagnino’s dance. Yorke even adds a few vocal tracks into the mix, creating a chilling atmosphere right from the intro. The sounds combine hints of Radiohead with tons of synthesized queues built off of 70’s heady horror.
Suspiria is sensual, savage filmmaking sorcery. It pushes the envelope into new directions and features a finale that finalizes the love that I already felt for this film. It does exactly what a good remake has to do in order to transcend outside its predecessor’s shadow, it takes its own path, dancing and blazing the entire way.

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