You wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts.
The original 1977 Suspiria was pretty weird. From acclaimed horror director Dario Argento, the movie told of a German ballet academy that was actually home to a coven of witches planning a series of gruesome murders. Pretty strange, right?
Turns out, that’s nothing compared to the abnormality that Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria brings to the table. In fact, it’s not even close.
That’s because Guadagnino, who made last year’s Call Me By Your Name, isn’t trying to make a straight-forward remake like we’ve seen done so many times before. He’s coming at this thing with his own vision and directorial stamp, which is, I promise you, unlike anything that you’ve ever seen before.
In the 1970’s, Germany was in a state of political unrest. According to Suspiria, at least. To tell you the truth, I don’t know the first thing about European history, but this movie certainly expects you to as it doesn’t waste a single scene offering any kind of exposition in this regard (one of the many, many things that make Suspiria great).
In the heart of the country, though, lies a dance academy. A dance academy that exists apart from corruption and constant threats. A dance academy where women can go to just be free.
Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson), an American dancer from Ohio, is the latest pupil to find refuge in this school.
At first, Susie wasn’t sure or not whether she’d make the cut. Her audition to get into the school, she learns, pretty much just came from a place of pity.
Yet, much to everyone’s surprise, Susie turns out to be an incredible dancer who has a bright future as the school. That’s according to one of the academy’s administrators, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), at least, as she takes an instant liking to Susie and becomes something of a mentor figure.
Susie is up for it all. While she quickly becomes friends with some of the other students — in particular, her next-door neighbor Sara (Mia Goth) — Susie knows that she’s destined for greater things and is willing to go the extra mile to achieve them.
What she doesn’t know, however, is the dark, sinister places that extra mile is going to leave her.
Without going into too much detail for the sake of spoilers (even though it’s somewhat in the public consciousness due to the original Suspiria), there’s evil within the walls of this school. Yes, witchcraft is the myth that’s floating around amongst some of the students and the outside community, but that really doesn’t begin to even scratch the surface of it.
In reality, the secrets this place is harboring are far, far worse than what you might have initially imagined them to be.
There are a couple of things within Suspiria that everyone is going to agree on regardless of whether or not they actually enjoyed watching the film.
For starts, it’s simply stunning to look at from a visual point of view. The original Suspiria boasted this extravagant, colorful cinematography that almost felt like it took place in another world because it's so larger than life. Guadagnino wisely doesn’t try to top that here. Rather, he goes for a different take entirely, turning this version of Suspiria into a murky and bleak visual masterpiece.
It isn’t just the cinematography, either. It’s the costumes, the makeup, the production design and, perhaps above all, the dance choreography that makes Suspiria such a cinematic delight.
The other element everyone will agree on is the acting. Gone are the days where Dakota Johnson was nothing more than a punchline because of Fifty Shades of Grey. The performance she gives here is one that very few actresses could pull off in this way and is, in my mind, Oscar-worthy.
Tilda Swinton is always bringing her A-game in everything she appears in, and Suspiria is no different. Her role here is a complicated one to say the least, given that she’s really playing several roles at the same time (I’ve read other reviews go into more detail than that, but I’ll stop there as it’s better if you just experience it for yourself in the theater). All you need to know is that she nails all aspects of those roles and could very easily be nominated for an Oscar as well.
Not everyone is going to love this movie, though. In fact, most won’t. Even though the trailer hinted at some of the weirdness that would be at play here, I reckon that around 90% of people who go to see Suspiria will come out hating it.
I’m proud to say that you can count me in the 10 percent who love it. Absurd and complicated as this thing may be, there was never a moment during the 152-minute runtime where my interest splintered for even a second (even though I’m usually an advocate of making all movies less than 2-hours long).
That’s not to say that I understand everything in Suspiria or don’t have a few nit-picks in regards to some of the decisions made. You could fill a book with questions that I’d want to ask Guadagnino about Suspiria, should I ever get the chance.
Rather, it means I can appreciate this movie’s beauty and complexity for what it is — that being a cinematic masterpiece, in my humble opinion. Suspiria isn’t going away any time soon. This movie is going to be discussed, analyzed and written about for years and years to come. As divisive as it may be now, the legacy that this movie leaves is one that’s going to be felt for a long time.
Which is why I’m telling you to go see it in a theater as soon as you can (it’s currently only showing in like 250 theaters, I believe, so I understand that might be slightly difficult). You might come out of Suspiria completely hating it, but it’s worth the anguish just so you can say you were there during the movie’s initial release when you hear it being discussed 20 years from now.
Check out the trailer for Suspiria here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought about the movie!
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