Suspiria ★★★★★

Let it be known, as many already do know, that this film is not at all a remake of Argento’s ’77 classic. Luca Guadagnino has stripped away the polychromatic giallo palette of the original and exchanged it for the brutalist composure of a divided Berlin following the unfathomable carnage of World War II, imbuing his picture with the emotional equivalency of what may be the totality of human suffering. “Suspiria” contains a completely Kubrickian sense of fluid, near ambiguous horror where the terror we witness, no matter how ghastly or borderline ridiculous it becomes, is successfully planted in an established reality rich with texture and historical gravitas. The spirits summoned by the precise balancing of these two worlds (fantastical and realistic) is nothing short of a brilliant. Never before have I felt myself oscillate between such severe degrees of cinematic affectability, between sensing my teeth shattering within my skull and experiencing the ecstasy of climaxing.

With “Suspiria,” Guadagnino has cemented himself as one of the true modern masters. His lifelong obsession of reinterpreting Argento’s film has paid off and could become the benchmark by which we understand and critique the reimagining of other cinematic works. The genius on display here, from every facet of production, is quite unparalleled. Truly, this is a masterwork in many regards, containing some of the most utterly magnificent moments you could hope to witness in a film this year, or any year.

For the achievement of this, screenwriter David Kajganich must be acknowledged in the same light as Guadagnino, as should every element of “Suspiria.” The expansion and contraction of narrative concentration for the sake of presenting a tale that’s ultimately woven into the fabric of the sum total of all despair is a decision that not only distances this film from the original but provides a seemingly eternal well of examination. It’s very reminiscent of “The Shining” and how that picture utilizes history as a weapon of fear and all the themes present contain an inherent duality that’s ripe for the silver screen. Some may find the setting of the German Autumn and inclusion of other historical events to be needless or distracting, but the weight that it contextually provides to the story feels absolutely essential to the success of the film.

And the buck doesn’t stop with the direction and writing. Thom Yorke’s masterful score looms throughout the film, haunting all that it penetrates. The editing by Guadagnino frequent Walter Fasano may be the best of the entire year, bringing both invisibility and direct attention to every cut (there’s a dance sequence in this film that’s one of the best I’ve ever seen). Sayombhu Mukdeerprom's cinematography is rich with the revulsions of East and West as well as the primordial reaches of the birth of classical malevolence. Coexisting within all of this dreadful wonder is a cast of stars that crush their roles with effortless beauty and fright.

“Suspiria” may not be everyone’s ideal cup of tea (we saw two walkouts), but it’s a picture that should at least be attempted. Its resonance is deep and lasting, casting wicked spells to the furthest peaks of your mind and the deepest caverns of your heart. It’ll also test your capacity for squirming. But behind everything that it depicts, there remains a tragic truth of the human experience that anyone could get behind, potentially.

“We need guilt, Doctor. And shame. But not yours.”

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