Suspiria (2018) Review

Though equally intriguing and familiar, something far more is being reached for that isn’t all there with this classic horror’s remake.

Written by Blake Hall

Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the 1977 Italian horror classic Suspiria will go down as one of the most divisive horror films of the decade; right up there with Aronofsky’s mother!.  I have mixed feelings about it.  There were times where I was enthralled and others where I was just scratching my head at what exactly it was communicating (and sometimes I was feeling both simultaneously).  I’m still trying to figure out if it is my fault or the film itself for not completely understanding it.

Visually, it’s an absolute treat.  The atmosphere created here is simply incredible.  Guadagnino has created an interesting beast that couldn’t be any more different from his 2017 hit Call Me By Your Name. If I had watched this without knowing the director, I would’ve sooner assumed it to be a Nicolas Winding Refn film.

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The biggest strength would have to be the pacing, which really does a fantastic job at building slow burning tension.  There are characters and scenarios that are genuinely mysterious and intriguing in the way the best horror/thriller films are.  It also comes with some freaky insane moments, particularly in the climax.  Again, my main flaw is that it’s bogged down with SO ambitious and heavy thematic content that it feels a bit scattered at times (again, it could be me needing to understand it better).

To contrast it with the 1977 Suspiria, it couldn’t be more different. I’d sooner compare it to mother! and Hereditary than the original Suspiria.  Ultimately, there will be plenty of people who will prefer Guadagnino’s vision because of its added layer of depth and bleak approach.  However, I personally cannot say I’m onboard with that boat simply because I didn’t understand half of what happened here.  The 1977 Suspiria is campy, plotless and a wonderland of overwhelmingly colorful aesthetics.  This version is bleak, multilayered and ultimately a massive brainteaser.  While the original doesn’t offer anywhere near as much depth, it’s one of the most visually and musically impactful films imaginable.  It’s a film so much about style that’s it’s wise for the 2018 version to take a completely different approach.

It’s also worth mentioning Thom Yorke’s incredible soundtrack.  I’ve read reviews saying that his vocals didn’t fit the atmosphere of the film but I thought it was one of the highlights.  Really captures a distinct mood in the way Jonny Greenwood soundtracks do for Paul Thomas Anderson films.

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So while stylistically the original simply cannot be topped (and Guadagnino clearly understood this), this also doesn’t even feel like the same film tonally and musically speaking.  I did however greatly enjoy seeing how this one attempts something completely ambitious and new, even if I do prefer what the original offered.  Despite it not being all praise on my end, I can say with confidence that this is one of the most unique films of the decade that any horror buff shouldn’t miss.  Love it or hate it, you certainly won’t forget.

Blake’s Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 152 minutes
Directed By: Luca Guadagnino
Written By: David Kajganich
Primary Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Doris Hick

Summary: A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist.  Some will succumb to the nightmare.  Others will finally wake up.

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