Conal’s review published on Letterboxd:
This was my most anticipated film of the year, so it is with heavy heart that I report my feelings after my first viewing. It was woeful. I left the theatre angry and for the life of me I cannot understand a lot of the critical reactions to this mess.
The original is about very little, indeed it is one of the best elements of that film. It’s pure camp fun that is way overproduced. In order to be different the new Suspiria attempts to shoehorn in some shallow themes regarding the holocaust, and just to try and pretend to have depth the film hides its intentions behind 10 layers of obfuscation and pretension. Not to mention some barely audible, poorly mixed dialogue.
The films main vessel for its themes is an old man psychiatrist character whose wife went missing during the war. This character is played by Tilda Swinton. This is not a spoiler, it has no bearing on the plot, the character could be easily played by a more appropriate, less distracting actor, but no... the film proceeds with this gimmick causing the character that is central to the emotional payoffs of the film to be very poorly performed. Just odd really.
Apart from this I just found the film to be a drag for many sections. There is one genuinely phenomenal sequence about 40 minutes in. Unlike the original there is so much exposition. The biggest weakness of Argento’s version is the 5 minute scene of exposition where a psychiatrist explains to Susie what a witch is. Indeed it probably accounts for 80% of exposition in the film. Guadagninos version spreads this exposition over at least 20% of the film. There is way too much downtime between scenes of genuine horror.
Look, I’ll admit there are a few factors that make me biased. I saw it early in the morning for one, though I was well enough rested. I have also watched Guadagnino’s morally bankrupt The Protagonists which has made me wonder about him. I will see this film again to try and confirm my opinions. I worry though that it can only go down from here. I am so saddened by this film.