(Sterling)’s review published on Letterboxd:
How do I put this in a way that doesn’t make me look like an ignorant asshole? Amazon Studios and director Luca Guadagnino made an 153 minute reimagining of a 98 minute 1977 Giallo horror film from Dario Argento. If that doesn’t tell you that they added more to this remake (and perhaps way more than they maybe should’ve), I don’t know what will.
“Suspiria” (2018) has left me more polarized than the Chicagoland area during a polar vortex. This is one of those few remakes nowadays that tries to take risks with what it is doing a new spin on as opposed to straight up recreating key scenes either shot for shot ala “Psycho” (1998) or changing the bare minimal and adding prequel elements like “Halloween” (2007). But with a sophisticated director like Luca Guadagnino at the helm, you know you’re getting more than you bargained for.
That’s my case here. Besides the basic plot of an American girl heading to a foreign country dance academy hiding a coven of witches, practically all of the movie is a different beast when in comparison to the 1977 Argento one. Dakota Johnson should get some props for being in this and finally getting out of those “Fifty Shades” movies within the same year. She is definitely pulling a Kristen Stewart post “Twilight” phase. Other cast members such as Chloë Moretz I thought felt totally wasted playing an important role, but not really even though the film opens with her. Mia Goth is alright, but you do feel like she is the one to not get attached to knowing she might be the one to get killed. The one who honestly stands out is Tilda Swinton taking on three roles and one of them being an old male German doctor whose own conflicted past with the Holocaust gets plenty of screen time.
Thom Yorke should’ve been nominated an Oscar or at least other awards for his contributions to the score and soundtrack. If his fellow Radiohead member Johnny Greenwood can make an ominous soundtrack to “There Will Be Blood”, what would stop Thom from making one that’s just as eerie? I did appreciate its homage to the old Giallo/Italian horror genre with its long distance pans and sudden closeups that always added a level of uncomfortableness whenever viewing one of them.
What leaves me polarized about this film though? It is so...damn...long. It took me about 3-4 days to finish this and it’s not even a movie that pushes more than 3 hours. Some scenes have a way of dragging on too long through elongated dialogue, the added historical subtext of 1977 West Germany’s various bombings, and the high jacking of Lufthansa Flight 181 don’t help the pacing of this film throughout. While there are some really good moments of cinematography, there are times where I couldn’t make out what was going in certain moments especially once the artistic bloodbath comes in the last half hour.
So, “Suspiria” (2018) is on the same level of polarizing to me as “Inherent Vice” was; great concept, great cast, great visuals, notable director, but somehow can’t quite make the cut for everyone. It might be a more beneficial film for repeated viewings and could be an honest addition for Women in Horror philosophy classes for whatever college students might attend. At this point, I prefer the original Dario Argento one over this in just the fact that the 1977 original was a simpler and influential piece of horror art. The new isn’t really a bad film; it’s just too ambitious for its own good.