Suspiria ★★★★

Suspiria is an uneven, gorgeous mess. Narratively and visually this thing is an unruly beast, oscillating between conventional horror imagery and methodically-paced suspense that teeters on self-indulgent, and in one key scene, diving into full-on camp. Also, Guadagnino conveniently picks and chooses what plot and thematic threads suit the material at any given moment, causing any underlying statement or message to feel unearned at best and disingenuous at worst, especially the closing stretch which aims for an emotional coda that feels undeveloped, to say the least.

Surprisingly though, Suspiria works despite its many flaws, and in some ways due to them. Clearly setting out to unsettle, the lengthy runtime, off-putting pacing, and narrative juggling successfully upend genre expectations and, except for a few brief homages to 70s horror, Suspiria smartly avoids any resemblance to the original. The scattered chaos of the narrative, tone, visual style, and even untraditional casting all feels designed to reinforce the unease and dread Guadagnino sets out to instill. When it comes down to it, it's a suspense film and an extremely effective one. Even considering the ridiculous runtime and slow pacing, I found it completely engrossing. With Suspiria, Guadagnino abandons his typical wheelhouse to craft a fittingly bizarre and entrancing exercise in sustained tension.

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