Suspiria

Suspiria ★★★

I'll start with the negatives

1. Suspiria 2018 hates its predecessor. I'm not telling tales out of school- screenwriter David Kajganich flat-out said this in interviews. And when you have scenes like Dakota Johnson saying "resistance is more emphatic, don't you think?" It's hard to not see it as a jab at Argento's masterpiece. And in general, Suspiria2018 takes the problem that many have with horror these days, trying to stuff meaning into everything and make it as human as possible

which leads me to

2. This film is incredibly muddled. The influences are all over the place, and they all work in-and-of-themselves, but meshed together, the melodramatic German New Wave tributes and the Horror itself undermine each other rather than compliment. Guadagnino and co. are constantly reminding you that this film is a political allegory and at a certain point it feels like we're being beaten over the head thematically, while at the same time not getting enough information about why any of it matters. Trust me: research the German Autumn before you see this, it'll probably help a lot. I couldn't help but think of Burning, another 2018 film that uses a political backdrop for its characters, but does so with a subtle ambiguity that I wish a film like this could have approached.

In spite of this, in spite of myself, I still found myself charmed by Suspiria2018, and I can't discount the ambition of the film, even if a significant chunk doesn't work. There are scenes of violence that are as vivid and disturbing as anything I've seen from horror in this generation. For a film that thumbs its nose at its genre in such an obvious way, they sure are good at it once it comes time to ramp shit up. Even smaller moments, like the opening where a panicked Chloe Moretz tells her psychologist that the coven will "have her cunt hollowed out and put on a plate," got under my skin. This isn't a film that uses sensory overload as a lazy way of attempting scares- it's done in such a precise, brutal way that I don't see enough of from the genre as a whole.

The performances across the board are fantastic. The finale is hypnotizing, even if they have to tack on a janky coda to remind you once again that this is an a l l e g o r y. At the end of the day, one thing I can say for certain is that Guadagnino should let go of his urge to resist and just let his freak flag fly: this guy has a more aggressive type of horror instinct inside of him and I want to see him hone it in a way that doesn't feel overstuffed.

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