Suspiria ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

It's taken me a while to process how I felt about Suspiria. I'm an enormous fan of Argento's original, but that didn't stop me from being almost overwhelmingly excited for this remake, which looked genuinely fresh and exciting. And it is. Especially in its first hour or so. I was totally on board from the get go. I loved the style of the film—it's about as far away as you could get from Argento's colours and lights, but it's equally outrageous in its own right. The costume design is fantastic. Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's cinematography is wild, jumping from locked off, lingering shots to jolting zooms and whip-pans. Dakota Johnson is an excellent, almost mystic, presence. Tilda Swinton is wonderful as Blanc (more on her later). And the cast that surrounds these two leads is peppered with familiar faces. The horror is vicious and distressing. The mangle-dance had me squirming. I was also enjoying elements of the script, like the power struggle between Blanc and Markos.

But the more scenes we got with Dr. Klemperer, the more I found myself drifting away from the film. Klemperer is, again, played by Swinton. I love Tilda Swinton. She's one of my favourite actresses. But I wish she hadn't have taken on this extra role (she plays a third role in Markos too). She is distracting as Klemperer, mostly because it is obviously not an old man playing the role. The prosthetics, as good as they are, look rubbery around the mouth and Swinton's performance isn't quite enough to suspend disbelief. It makes scenes that could be affecting fall flat on their face. In fact, the entire character of Klemperer seemed half-baked to me. I found his backstory so separate from that of the witches, and by the final act I'd totally disconnected with the film whenever he was on screen. I felt a similar way with some of the political backdrop that Guadagnino continually pushes through. It's not so much how they connect with the film's themes that was a problem for me, but rather how sluggishly they're presented.

As the credits rolled, I was left feeling rather disappointed. This was a reaction mostly to the last fifteen or twenty minutes, so I held off from writing a review straight away. Having let my feeling settle, I can see that what I enjoyed about Suspiria very much outweighs what I didn't. Though it was perhaps not quite the masterpiece I had anticipated, a good 90 percent of this really blew me away. There are sequences unlike anything I've seen in horror cinema. The climactic dance is unbelievably tense and shockingly powerful. It is, for the most part, excellent, original and bold. Perhaps on a rewatch, my niggling issues won't bother me as much.

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