Suspiria

Suspiria ★★★½

Firstly, I'm not in the business of comparing remakes to originals when they're this different. I really like Argento's Suspiria, but this is another beast entirely. Guadagnino's version paves a new path for itself with major differences in both form and story. So, I will be making a lot of references to the classic, but not in a "this one was better" way if I can avoid it.

The deep reds and excessive lighting found in the original are distant memory here, traded out for earthier tones and a more naturally lit space. This removes the feeling of fantasy and brings us much closer in proximity to horror. Speaking of, as a horror this 2018 film is arguably more effective. While Argento's flick was brimming with spooky magic that was exciting and mysterious, Guadagnino's opts for disturbing body horror and malintent from the get-go. The "ifs and buts" pertaining to the coven aren't present, this is definitely a coven.

When Dakota Johnson's Susie moves into the dance academy, the film takes a quick dive into the weirdness of the halls and mirrored walls. The dances are full of strange contortions, and are slightly sexual and intense to witness. The slaps of palms on skin, exhales, and the thud of kneecaps and elbows hitting hardwood floors are perfectly matched with disruptive editing and disorienting zooms. When the girls are moving, the visual storytelling takes over and so much is said.

The Berlin set monstrosities grow in grossness, and before long the question isn't what is happening, it's why. *WE ARE ABOUT TO GET SPOILERY* The atmosphere, although not as full of intrigue as the original's, is just as self-assured.

Dakota Johnson is fantastic, especially in the physicality of her performance, but the support around her is extraordinary. Susie, although at the centre of the plot, is a bit of a blank slate. This is something I found to be undermining.

Mia Goth's Sara is an addition that adds so much, it's her suspicion that finally drives things forward and brings us to the blood-soaked finale.

Here's where things get iffy. Cause up till' this point, everything is going so good. I'm deeply disturbed, slightly turned on, the cinematography is doing its job, the cast are battling it out to see who can do the emptiest stare. Fantastico. So why in the last act does this vague yet chilling piece become something nonsensical?

I mean, I get it (after a google of course). "I am she!". She is she. She is Mater Suspiriorum. But does that make any sense? Worse, does it make everything that has come before it confusing or insignificant?

This whole time, we've been worried for Susie, right, and we've come to enjoy her charming friendship with Sara. Before this, I assumed she was slowly giving herself over to the powers that be (because who doesn't want to jump that high) and the fun and creepiness is in their vulnerability and denial of the witchcraft around them. But if Susie is this ancient being reincarnated, she had to have only found out late on cause otherwise why audition at all? Why not just fuck their shit up right away and take rightful ownership? But we never really get that realisation, because in the drive for a compelling and shocking climax the film turns things on their head so quickly, and without much that backs it all up. One minute Susie cares, the next she's all smiles during some creative murder.

This was kind of infuriating because I was loving the slow burn. I love a batshit ending as much as the next gal, but this, to me, made no sense.

I get it, we want to subvert, but even when all of it becomes sort of clear, it just comes off as random even though it was clearly planned. We are asked to latch on to Susie, and it happens slowly throughout, but not enough. She ends up being a character that is more receptive than an active participant in the story, things just happen to her, and it didn't make her that exciting to be with. Sara began to be the better option, as she was the one discovering things and being the vehicle for everything to come together. Over the course of a long runtime such as this, I want to KNOW the characters, not guess after a hard to read ending.

Basically, all of it except the last 20 minutes or so was right up my alley. Damn it! At one point during this I was like "oh this is for sure making it into my top 10 from 2018". Damn it!

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