Film Review: Suspiria (2018)

Film Review: Suspiria (2018)

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

By Pharrah Kougias

Whenever a remake is announced, the film community groans.  Why remake something that is fine the way it is? This is always the question begged by cinephiles.

Luca Guadagnino’s  Suspiria is not a direct remake of the Dario Argento classic, rather a “cover”. 

The latest version follows Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) an American who arrives in Germany to study at a prestigious dance academy. She soon discovers the school is a front for a coven of witches.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

This thin plot summary, character names, and the year 1977 are the only aspects the films have in common.

Argento’s is an acid trip built on eerie Grimms' Fairy Tale arcs and focuses on style rather than the overall plot. 

Guadagnino’s canvas bleaches and strips away Argento’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs neon-technicolor dreamscape for a smokey pastel detox lurking in the shadows and bulks up the narrative with a new subplot about a therapist, struggling with the disappearance of his wife during the Nazi raids, who becomes tangled in the horrifying magic. 

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

The Berlin Wall paints the political narration as the picture opens with citizens resisting heavily armored police forces. A country divided reflects our current situation proving history isn’t repetitive, but human nature is. 

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

As always, Tilda Swinton radiates her haunting persona as the school’s director Madame Blanc. Right away we know she’s a lil’ shady by lurking through mirrors and appearing out of thin air when Susie auditions. With her character’s maternal instincts, Swinton stalks the screen as a panther striding in the jungle. She controls law and order in the realm even if her colleagues oppose her power. (Pay close attention to her shape shifting).

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Stealing the scenes with her spunk and boisterous attitude, Mia Goth plays Sarah, a student who charges head first into the depths of the academy’s cruel intentions. Goth’s courage evokes excitement and tension with her courageousness to save the day. When in harms way, we cheer her to conquer all. 

Chloë Grace Moretz’s cameo bewitches a distressed anxiety attack, leaping around and stretching her body like Linda Blair. “They’ll hollow me out and eat my cunt on a plate” she warns. 

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

“Why does everyone think the worst is over” whispers Dakota Johnson before the brutal sixth act soaks the silver screen crimson.  The dance choreography comes full circle as a weapon rather than an art form summoning power. The gore fest mirrors the elegance of the original’s audacious deaths, but with a influence from post 9/11 torture porn such as Saw.

Suspiria is not for everyone. Running at two and a half hours, Guadagnino’s slowly boils a cauldron of dread and shock until the final curtain call.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Watch the trailer here.

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