Michael Bennett’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’m so tired... Suspiria is thrilling, engulfing, and entirely draining, all before it’s even left the page.
I just finished reading the complete screenplay for the first time, and I’m honestly terrified to go and see the movie now. Not because the screenplay was particularly frightening (in fact, to me it seemed to read much more as a mythical drama than horror), but because of how deeply affecting I know this will be to all who see it. I’m horrified that I’ll walk out of the theatre in a state of ecstasy similar to what I’m feeling now and be met with nothing but confused, enraged grumbles.
As much as I can see the basis of comparison to mother!, 2017’s ugly little divisive baby, Suspiria reads as something entirely different. Where Aronofsky’s screenplay was born out of a (a very likely drug-filled) single weekend’s work, a glance at Suspiria’s screenplay reveals something much heftier, much more carefully crafted. References to obscure but monumental historical moments abound, peppered with names and language that recall the struggles of the world’s past and present.
It makes me wonder whether Guaganino was involved in the writing process— his influence is clear in Call Me By Your Name’s screenplay in such moments as the WWI statue scene, which echoes discussions of nationality and erasure found in both I Am Love and A Bigger Splash. Here, Susie Bannion’s final monologue reads like an amplification of those discussions, a powerful thread tying Guadagnino’s filmography together and binding him to the entire world’s history of suffering.
Suspiria thus becomes the ultimate modern horror film, as it delves into the weight of the world that we see crashing onto our shoulders now, each day heaping on extra burdens. It sees the horror in our struggles, morphing them into images, words and ideas that (as Madame Blanc puts it) refuse beauty, because of the strength that refusal can give us. We are called to be Susie Bannion in a world full of decrepit, cancerous souls burdened by age and a steadfast refusal to accept or aid in development & progress. We are called to take a stand, to open our Greater Mouths, and to destroy the relics of the past that bind us to our own blindness.
Long live Mother Suspiriorum indeed!