Suspiria

Suspiria ★★★★

I think ultimately there are two kinds of film lovers out there, there's the ones who crave nuance, subtly and very singular films. And the ones who simply love over-indulgent, the more the better, film as something to experience over storytelling. I think the latter get dubbed as film-bros because of how juvenile and instinctive the whole thing is, and whilst I do love my subtle humanistic dramas, I have a soft spot excess and indulgence over nuance.

Which puts this reimagining of Suspiria is a strange spot for many. The original film is no means nuances, a phantasmagoria of striking imagery and supernatural gusto, the remake however offers muted colours, a quieter score and a steadier pace, but with the added price of an hours worth of material and period detailing to masquerade in, along with more modern tools. Detaching itself from both the original film's elaborate visuals yet simple story, almost as if it's an inverse, my friend asked me is there a lot in common between the two films, and my only response was "well, they both have witches". It might just be a case it's been a few years since seeing the Argento film, but it's to the film's strength that it never feels comparable.


What I think shocks me the most when reading about this remake is how dour and serious it is, but in fact I found it tremendous fun, and I think Director Luca Guadagnino is also having fun after awards darling Call Me By Your Name. Along with playing with all the camera tricks to emulate the era it's set in, Guadagnino clearly enjoys creating these dance sequences, the experimental moments of violence and imagery, even the structure of the film , broken into chapters, feels sardonic. That's not to say Suspiria isn't to be taken seriously, it digs into historic injustice, turmoil and violence to conjure up it's visions of evil, but the spell being cast here is more fast and loose than steady entrapment.


Add to this Guadagnino's regulars like Tilda Swinton, donning heavy prosthetics for two of her three roles, and Dakota Johnson, for which both seem to have a strong working relationship with the director. And you have something that feels like it's being explored as it plays out. Whilst Argento's film is more singular in it's vision, this new version has many calling points to tie it together, Roman Polanski's horror works come to mind instantly, along with Cronenberg's body horror staples, and you can't set something against divided Berlin and not muster up some memory of Andrezej Zulawski's Possession. On top of all these you have the talent of Radiohead lead singer Thom York bringing a real unique flavour to the film, with some real melancholic pieces of music that are unexpected, but really welcome.


It all comes together into something I found completely compelling, in some aspects I found it more mysterious and stimulating than the original film, although I'd be hard pressed to say it ever managed to scare me, only occasionally making me uncomfortable, if that was ever the intention here. I'm also not a huge fan of the film's final descent into computer generated gore, massive betraying the film's aesthetic up until that point, sure visuals interesting, but there must have been more effective ways to pull off the sequences.


But perhaps most shocking of all is the Guadagnino manages to conclude the film on a moment of genuine heartbreak and sadness, that deeply resonated with me. If that's not the mark of something successful, I don't know what is. This 2018 version doesn't match the original film in quality, but is exists far within itself to be taken as such, and to be taken in by as well.

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