Suspiria

Suspiria

I wanted to love Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria remake, I really did. I'm a big fan of the director and I kinda love the insanity of Dario Argento's original film. I like bold cinema and films that put their stakes in the ground and proudly sit upon the land they have claimed for their own. That is, I like those kinds of films provided they repay me for the gravitas I have given to them. Suspiria is a film that looks like it is deserving of your time, it talks like it is deserving of your time, but on even a surface-level inspection, the only thing running through Suspiria's veins is a desire to show how cool and edgy and smart Guadagnino is.

The first notice of this is the runtime. Suspiria 2018 is 152 minutes compared to the original's 98, a runtime only befitting of the most grandiose and meaty films. Suspiria opens with a title card saying that the film is presented in 'six acts and an epilogue', which in hindsight functions better as a warning than an introduction, and an hour (two acts) in, a terrifying truth is revealed. Suspiria is not in six acts because it has six distinct turning points of the plot. At best these "acts" are scenes because until the end it's hard to distinguish one from the other. It is in six acts because that's what other important films do, and dammit, Suspiria is an important film. And it's only easy to distinguish act six from the first five because it throws caution to the wind and embellishes in all the silliness and sensory-melting brashness that the first 2+ hours condemned. Suspiria hates a lot of things, like joy, or a plot, or character development, but the thing it hates most of all is Dario Argento's original film.

I don't hate this film because it feels like someone who is deeply ashamed of their love of the original rewriting it in real time so they can impress their snooty friends, I hate this film because it's under the impression that the ruse is working. None of the decisions made in Suspiria make any sense, least of all the decisions made by the camera that bounce between Lanthimos-style long shots, Dogme 95-level close ups, and the disorienting zooms that populated the original film, all shoved together in an attempt to Frankenstein together a style seemingly on a whim. But the film doesn't care. It doesn't care that it bounces from one feeling to the next with no cohesion, because if an individual shot looks cool, then it must be included in the movie, because Suspiria is cool and smart. The lead, elderly man character should be played by Tilda Swinton with a prosthetic penis because it'd be funny and weird and Suspiria is funny and weird and clever. Suspiria is more clever than you are, audience, and you should love it for that.

This movie is so in love with itself that it's the film version of the vain valley girl at the beginning of an 80s slasher flick. Its sole motivation is pride and glory. Well I'm sorry Suspiria, you're not getting any of that glory from me. I've seen through you, I've seen through all 152 grueling minutes of you. Now let me go.