Suspiria

Suspiria ★★★★★

I don't even know where to begin with this review. Whatever words I manage to type out still won't be able to truly described what I just experienced here. Suspiria exhausts me by the end of its runtime, but that's not a dig on the movie. First and foremost, I can feel that it is a long movie because it is 152 minutes after all. However, I never felt that it dragged at any point, perhaps due to the fact that they split it into 6 acts and an epilogue.

There's really no point in comparing this to the original version as Luca's vision is an entirely different beast, so much that the only similarity left is the initial premise of a young woman attending a dance school where strange things occur. Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria is filled to the brim with gruesome and disturbing imagery that will require multiple viewings and analysis to fully comprehend what they all mean. The intentionally drab and washed out visuals enhance its setting of a divided Berlin in 1977, which is a topic of discussion on its own, one that I won't even bother getting into because it's way, way out of my element. Just by the mere mention of a political subtext can tell you that this Suspiria will fall into the camp of slowburn arthouse horror, which is understandably not for everyone. If you are not a fan of A24 horror movies, then you probably won't be too into Suspiria either as it is a SLOW burn, with the emphasis on slow. But if you have the patience, the slow burn pays off with a deliciously over the top and bonkers climax.

Right from the bat, there is a palpable sense of unease. You know something is wrong pretty much in the first 5 minutes since this version doesn't shy away from revealing that the dance academy are run by witches. With the given piece of information, we are expected to anticipate the horrors that will inevitably befall upon the oblivious characters. And yet, the most unexpectedly unnerving aspect of Suspiria is the dance sequences; they are hypnotic and strangely anxiety inducing at times. The big dance sequence near the end had me on the edge of my seat and glued to the screen, utterly transfixed by what I was witnessing. The way the movie puts an emphasis on dance movements as a storytelling device is ingenious and I applaud Luca for pulling it off so brilliantly.

As for the performances, there was not one single weak link across the board. First, obligatory praise for Tilda Swinton for her MULTIPLE portrayals throughout this movie, of course. She's one of the best actress alive and they did not waste her talent for one minute. Second, Dakota Johnson's work is simply impressive, switching from innocent to intimidating during her dances with ease. And last but not least but certainly surprising, Mia Goth ends up being my favourite performer from the cast, portraying a sweet and likable character with charm, someone that we care and root for; she is arguably the heart of this dreary and nightmare fueled tale.

Of course, Suspiria isn't perfect, because no movie is. There were a couple issues I had with it, mainly the editing choices several times. I get that they were a stylistic choice, but I can't say it totally worked for me, so perhaps I will grow to love it during a rewatch. Similarly, Thom Yorke's score has a few misses in this otherwise haunting soundtrack. Whenever he SINGS during a score, I am immediately taken out of the movie as it does not jive with the other tracks at all, which are ambient heavy. There is one moment in the climax where he starts singing, which sucks out a lot of the tension and the craziness of the sequence. But thankfully, it doesn't really matter on a grand scale.

Suspiria will divide the audience. Some will love it (like me), some will despise it. It's unlike most things you've seen before, it's bold, it's disturbing, and it's full of subtext. Movies like Suspiria, Hereditary, mother!, etc. solidify my love for horror if that's not clear enough, showcasing that this genre can be so much more than just providing frights. It's constantly evolving by the decade, and I just adore how versatile it can be. I've been saying it pretty much every year, but this year, 2018 really is THE year for horror.

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