‘Suspiria (2018)’ // Film Review

Suspiria was probably gonna be one of those movies where I know that isn’t made for everyone. This is, of course, based off the original 1977 Italian classic directed by Dario Argento that gained a cult following, and there was this sense of feeling impressed or uneasy sitting through this remake. Did I love it? Did I hate it? Be Mixed? Or will I be scarred for life?

Set in 1977’s Berlin, Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) is a young American dancer who travels to become a dancer at the Markos Dance Academy, one of the most prestigious dance academies in the world led by director Madame Blanc (Tilda Swindon) and has taken Susie under her wing. Little does anybody knows that secrets involving witchcraft and girls are somehow missing might uncover some dark secrets.

Dakota Johnson in Suspiria (2018)

Never seeing the original, it would be intriguing to see well-known Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s follow-up after the amazing Call Me By Your Name, one of my favorite movies of 2017. Just from looking at the trailers, I don’t know how I felt about it. This wasn’t playing anywhere near me, which explains why it barely made any money at the box office. The scariest thing about this is that Suspiria might be 2018’s equivalent to Mother!, and we all know how polarizing that came about. Now, did I think Suspiria was amazing? No. Is it worth checking out if you’re a fan of this property? I don’t say why not for those who appreciate artsy horror.

Guadagnino’s made it look like he made this version the story his own. His direction clearly shows that he’s a fan of the original by almost creating the same style but in a different way with the help of David Kajganich (The Terror)’s script, even if it leads to captivation. This also looks pretty gritty considering it’s taking place in Berlin. With the bleak cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, it helps that there’s little usage of color throughout.

The performances in here are what made this worth it. Johnson has still proven to be a solid actress when she’s not working with a horrible script like in the Fifty Shades series. She is truly giving it her all with a lot of these scenes. But it’s Swinton that carries every single scene, for the most part. And because she always up to playing different characters, some might not know that the Oscar-winner also portrays Dr. Josef Klemperer (credited as Lutz Ebersdorf under old-man makeup), a psychiatrist trying to uncover what’s going inside Markos. At first, it was something to get used by just on how unrecognizable it seems, but it came off as a distraction when the character doesn’t sound like a man at times. Fun fact: Johnson and Swinton had previously worked with Guadagnino before in A Bigger Splash a few years ago.

The dance sequences combined with the excellent choreography are directed with ease and almost feels like I could watch an entire movie on those scenes alone. They did almost remind me of the phenomenal dances in Black Swan, which is a fair movie to compare this to. Susie’s first dance was so crazy that another dancer can’t control her body and contorts herself in another studio. That scene was insane.

Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, and Olivia Ancona in Suspiria (2018)

Nothing came across as scary since it’s under the category of horror. Luckily this didn’t end up being a nightmare fueled night after watching it.

I don’t do well when movies need to be gory, and I knew firsthand that Suspiria wasn’t going to hold anything back in that department. Yes, a lot of moments of feeling disgusted. I had to cover my face with my face multiple times due to the subject matter. But that’s one of the biggest problems that I had while watching Suspiria. It really didn’t need to be excessive when it needs to be. Give credit to the amazing practical effects to a spine-chilling degree. Think about a disturbing Marilyn Manson music video done in an artistic fashion.

Radiohead’s lead singer Thom Yorke provided the musical score, and this is his first musical score, mind you. Yorks definitely went for a score that’s equally eerie and draws you in. I can’t say I’m gonna remember any pieces because nothing stood out, but he did record two songs that will be stuck in my head for a while: Suspirium” and “Unmade”. The former played during the opening and end credits.

Once that third act started, it’s almost impossible trying to describe what’s happening during the long climax. Which gives no purpose as to why the runtime is 152 minutes compared to the original’s 98 minutes. Why’s that? This is told in six acts and an epilogue. Mainly one of the reasons Suspiria isn’t perfect is due to the fact it’s pretty slow, making a quarter of the movie lost in translation.

Tilda Swinton in Suspiria (2018)

Not being head over heels in love for Suspiria doesn’t make me a moron for wanting something enjoyable, this remake was just too much for me to handle, and take can be taken either way. Guadagnino’s direction of this remake captures a sinister style, and it has great performances from Swinton and Johnson. But it’s one of those movies where it will indeed make you squirm constantly.

Grade: B-

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