Suspiria ★★★★½

As someone who doesn't consider the original Suspiria a horror masterpiece, I sincerely didn't know what to expect from Luca Guadagnino's remake of it. Especially since it turns out that this film isn't a remake, but more a reimagining of Suspiria. Once again, Guadagnino has struck gold with me, but I still think this film has some weak points.

The acting is solid all-around here. Tilda Swinton is killing it as not just Madame Blanc, the head director and choreographer of the Tanz Dance Academy, but also as the ghastly Helena Markos and the aging male psychiatrist Dr. Josef Klemperer. To see her deliver amazing performances in all three roles is an absolute treat. Mia Goth was a positive highlight with her supporting role as Sara, one of the dancers who starts looking into the disappearance of Patricia Hingle (Chloë Grace Moretz). Dakota Johnson, though, is the one who stands out the most for me. She shines in this role as the naturally talented Susie Bannion, whose slow ascent from ingenue to star performer and finally prodigal daughter is delivered with aplomb. I was not impressed by Johnson in Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash, but she truly blew me away here with her understated and sympathetic performance.

The main thing I like about this film, though, is its pacing and themes. For a two and a half hour length film, it breezed through easily. Mostly thanks to its mystery element and the long dance sequences, which made this film feel like a mix of the original Suspiria, All That Jazz and a murder mystery. I couldn't help but get enticed to find out what was actually going on here, and the mystery thankfully made more sense than in the original. Also, this film actually made dance a pivotal element to its storytelling, in contrast to the original, which automatically grants this film points on my behalf. The dancing further accentuated the haunting atmosphere of the academy, which further along with Thom Yorke's subtle score, helped build up tension for a satisfying climax. I won't say too much about the climax, but I will say it is one of the best displays of poetic justice towards abusers of power I've seen on screen in recent years.

I don't have many gripes towards this film, but I will say this. As much as I love the dance sequences and the mystery element, the horror part of the film felt underused and somewhat weak. There's only one instance of horror that was truly disturbing to me, and that was when Susie's dance was juxtaposed with Olga's suffering. Otherwise, the horror was too inept for me to leave any kind of impact on me. Another thing is that I wish that the film had spent a little more time delving into Susie's character. The short flashbacks to her childhood didn't reveal much to me that we couldn't have gotten from the rest of the film. I personally think it would have been better to show how, for example, her natural talent for dancing was discovered or maybe some better hints at her eventual destiny.

In conclusion, Luca Guadagnino's reimagining of Suspiria was far better than I could've anticipated. It is easily better in my opinion than the original, but I can admittedly also see why others might find the lack of horror and long dance sequences to be to the film's detriment.

P.S. Thanks to fellow Letterboxd user Cinemaverse Official for reminding me earlier today that I had yet to see this. Also, seeing Jessica Harper, AKA the original Suzy Bannion, as Dr. Klemperer's dead wife, was a brilliant and respectful nod to the original.

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