Suspiria ★★½

It is kind of funny and disappointing how much the new Suspiria wants to be informed, when its all performative. The film is busy with everything else but horror. It yearns to be shocking, horrifying, witchy, and transcending, but right as it's about to get there, it manages to undercut itself.

It starts out intriguingly enough as the film decidedly chooses a stylistic and aesthetic path far away from the original. Re-setting the time period, which dictates the cameras whipping zooms and pans. The film now takes place in drab, post-war Berlin. The film really makes sure you get this by dropping in incidents related to the Red Army Faction/Baader-Meinhof Gang.

Where the film had fascinated me the most was Sara's character. Once Sara starts delving into the hidden rooms and walls of the Tans Academy, the film almost starts into motion as a proper horror film. It's heightened by the best set piece in the entire film as Sara is pursued in the basement by a familiar, all shadows and whispers haunt. Alas, the film can't help itself by inter cutting it with the film's major dance sequence. The film had already toyed with this idea in an earlier scene(another where it doesn't quite work), and the tension isn't ratcheted, but interrupted.

The film's biggest interruptive element is Dr. Josef Klemperer's character. His character serves as an outsider witness to all the supernatural happenings, but is more so in service to pointing out the political subtext outside the walls of the Tanz academy(as if those weren't obvious enough). The film is so set on injecting the story with that political subtext but never actually delves deep into any of it(or any particular ideology). He is the least interesting element in the film and it cuts back to him so often, each time I felt less compelled to care. And you start to realize, for such a long film, it spends needless time on things that do not end up mattering as much.

Initially, the film seemed to be pulling itself together for a hysteric climax. It gets there, but by the time it happens, all narrative momentum has sort of flat lined. These are characters you don't care for, in service of something you should care for. And then, when we do get to the big ole Grand Guignol, witchy freak out, it is just plain goofy and silly. Not only that, but the only sequence limply lit in a single color, which, come on. And that's all before the unconvincing CGI blood and gore shows up. Minus a sprinkling of lame, nightmare's dreamed up by a art school drop out, the film restrains itself for a finale that doesn't reach a hysterical high. And the come down, a bloated epilogue that reminds you more of the film's length than anything else, which, ironically feels more of an obvious reminder than the original film's literal end credit "YOU HAVE BEEN WATCHING SUSPIRIA!"

The film is less experimental than an experiment. It fails but I feel I should give it credit for at least committing to its self-serious intentions. Mia Goth is wonderful and more compelling than Suzy, though Dakota Johnson is fine, I guess. Tilda tries to out do herself (and Eddie Murphy?) by taking on multiple roles, like it matters much, since besides Madame Blanc, the other roles could have been anyone else (why are they gonna do Udo Kier wrong by not including him in a cameo?). Not one element over stages another, including Thom Yorke's score, that honestly plays more as a cliche to including music from Radiohead in any film. The finale does deliver a bit of self-reflexive finger wagging to any sort of remake in general, wrapped up in a message of compassion. Unfortunately, the film is a horror film afraid to actually BE a horror film.

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