Suspiria ★★★

Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria is a disasterpiece, or, at least, a film that dances a fine between being a masterpiece and a disaster. There’s moments here that are positively brilliant, and then there’s other moments, whether they be pretentious or completely misguided, that mar an otherwise fine and rather subdued film. The key problem is that Guadagnino set out to say something with his Suspiria, making horror à la Fassbinder by shoehorning in the events of the German Autumn and weakly reflecting on German national guilt after WWII. During Act 6 (a dizzying trainwreck), Dr. Josef Klemperer (yep, it’s Tilda Swinton) is wailing about his wife and how he wasn’t the only one who didn’t leave Berlin during the war, and I was like… who cares? Don’t you see the satanic dance number going on around you? Then, after a talky epilogue, the camera zooms in on Josef and his wife’s initials carved into the side of a little cottage, and I had to wonder if I was meant to be affected by that? Did it really mean anything? If there was meaning, it was drowned out by all the blood and viscera. However, before all that, this film really had me in its corner. It dares to be more than a remake, carving out its own muted style from such a phantasmagorical mold. When it’s not trying to horrify, it possesses several sublimely quiet moments, some so quiet you can hear the soothing patter of rain on the dance studios’ windows. Now that’s art! While I certainly celebrate this film’s individuality, I did not like some of the liberties it took, mainly the decision to darken Susie Bannion’s (Dakota Johnson, giving a revelatory performance) role in these proceedings. It doesn’t even add up - maybe it does through those The Ring-esque nightmare sequences, but I’m no dream interpreter! Also, it’s a shame (and kind of cheap) that several of the most horrifying images from the trailers were only utilized in split-second fragments during the dream sequences.

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