Mark Costello’s review published on Letterboxd:
To give context to these incoming ravings, here's an analogy:
If Argento's original is a classic punk rock song (all about the aural/visual experience, rather than technical brilliance), Guadagnino's 'cover version' as he himself refers to this as, is like a prog rock cover of the same song - its like King Crimson covering Anarchy in the UK. Different - certainly. With merit - technically, its almost peerless. But...….why? It has changed the whole essence of the film and renders the whole experience somewhat...…..what's the fucking point?
Ok, digging a little into that, I liked a lot of this - the tone and style of the whole thing couldn't be any further from Argento: this 1977 Berlin is drab, its colourless, yet shot as if high art: staccato quick cuts from locked off camera's mingle with long fluid shots, bringing to mind both Kubrick's The Shining and The Lives of Others in how it uses this technique to have the almost mundane brilliantly instil creeping unease.
Thom Yorke's score is really rather wonderful - again, a complete 180 from Goblin's almost thrash metal histrionics, but perfectly suiting the visuals with a clever and ethereal mix of Radiohead-esque jams and electro ambience. And the cast are certainly game - Swinton in particular in her many roles could not have been more perfect.
When the claret is splashed, especially in its crazy finale, its poured on - even bloodless scenes such as the really rather fucking amazing first dance/kill, where every move Johnson makes in the dance is dishing out untold pain on another character elsewhere in the school, is masterful in its execution...……
..…….and yet, I'm completely fucking cold on it as a 'film'. Its nothing like the original in any way save for the concept of witches in a dance school. Its far too long, with the unnecessary flashbacks adding nothing save a clumsy 'twist' reveal at the end, which was so fucking befuddling, I had to look up exactly what it was all about. Too much emphasis on Swinton's doctor just drags the film down in a way that Argento's propulsive classic doesn't. And the film, in essence, trades the insane setpieces of the original for slow, creeping dread...….which while decent in its own right, is such the opposite of the original, its no surprise that Argento is not a fan of this.
For all the good in the film itself, I simply can't get over how there is virtually nothing of the things I adore in the original left in this. Further watches, when I can begin to distance this from the original, may help, but at the moment, I'm back to those awful fucking cover versions that are so completely different from the original, you listen to them once, marvel at how different it is, and then never listen to that version ever again because its nothing like the original you love.
Consider me...…..truly fucking flummoxed.