Suspiria ★★★★

There is a lot to love about Suspiria. The cast are incredible (yes, even Chloe Grace Moretz. I can’t believe I just said that). Tilda Swinton is the most intimidating teacher I’ve seen on screen since JK Simmons in Whiplash and finding out that she also played psychologist Josef straight up broke my brain. She is the best part of almost everything I’ve seen her in and this is again the case here. Mia Goth was given much more screen time than I was expecting, definitely a move for the better, and while it may just have been a marketing ploy I kind of believe the story that Dakota Johnson sought therapy after filming. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that this film is incredibly intense and messed up. It’s bold, it’s graphic, it thrives on building tension to almost unbearable levels, better than any horror/thriller I’ve seen in quite some time. I can’t recall any scenes relying on a jump scare, an incredibly refreshing thing to say about a horror film. I was quite conscious of the fact that my entire body was tensed up the entire film and had to literally shake it out as I was leaving the theatre (it’s been nearly 9 hours since I left the theatre and I’m still exhausted). The cinematography is also incredibly unique, the swinging of the camera and uneven zoom ins kept me on my toes even in quiet scenes. The scene with Olga in the mirrored studio was nothing short of fantastic and will surely go down as the film’s best scene, the final performance being a very close runner up. The score is also impeccable, I’m a massive Radiohead fan but completely forgot Thom Yorke was in control until I heard his crooning in the opening credits. He manages to make an already eerie film just that bit more special with his score. The film also includes scenes where there is no score and they work just as well too.

I will be honest that I’m still on the fence with the 2 and a half hour run time. While I haven’t seen the original 1977 film (I am incredibly keen to now), from other reviews I’ve seen it’s my understanding that the considerably larger run time of this remake allows the original’s ideas and themes to breathe a bit more. None of the story felt rushed and the pacing was just right to lure the audience back into a comfortable state after a fucked-up sequence before messing with them all over again. The story is sectioned off into acts, including a sweet epilogue to end an incredibly sour film. However, at this point I really began to feel the weight of the run time and found myself almost wishing the credits would just roll already. I also found the political and historical context of the films setting to be super distracting, the themes at play worked well enough on their own without the need to draw these parallels. Just because your film is long doesn’t mean you need to stuff it with as much meaning as you can just because you can, it makes an already long film feel a bit too overstuffed.

I do also wish that the dance sequences had not been edited so choppily. In the context of the story and the impact of the performances on so many of the film’s events, of course this makes perfect sense. There’s a deliberate, frenetic energy to them that works really well but I think I would have been more immersed if the performances had been shown as more of a whole than in small parts (Dakota Johnson actually performed most of her routines but with the amount of editing a stunt double may as well have been used the whole time).

Ultimately, I think Call Me By Your Name is the superior Luca Guadagnino film but I’m not closed off to raising Suspiria to a 4.5 after a second viewing. There is definitely classic potential here, I just think I need to push past the graphic violence and challenging cinematography to find it.

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