Suspiria ★★★★

On one hand, this is basically sacrilege. Updating one of my favourite films ever? How dare they. On the other, how else would you do this? This is sort of perfectly executed, an homage as much as it needs to be without being in total submission to Argento's version. This SUSPIRIA trades the neon lights and Halloween flavoured scares for a deeper, more political nightmare that, amazingly, doesn't skimp on the batshit insanity that is synonymous with the name. In fact, this film is even more fucked up than the original. Far more.

Still, at 2.5 hours and with a prerequisite of understanding post-WWII German politics and youth movements, this is probably one of the more pretentious witchcraft movies you'll see. I don't know where the connection lies between witches and the Holocaust, but SUSPIRIA tries to thread them together. This is a movie that demands repeat viewings, it's so dense and complex. I really have very little idea of what actually went on, but I also didn't feel cheated, or that it was some exercise in film-school pandering like a Nicolas Winding Refn movie, mostly because the film still works so well as a pure visual exercise. It's deeply disturbing and effective at filming and hearing the weight of the human body as it drags itself across a dance floor. The dance scenes are suspenseful because of it seems like these frail bodies will crack with each landing, and in the more horrific moments, a supernatural connection is literally drawn between the grace of the dance and the punishment for the body. But the way that Guadagnino has the camera crane in on people like Argento or his contemporaries would have done in the 1960s feels more self-conscious than confident to me. It's a film that is bridging the methods of high and low art, if you believe in such things. Whereas the original SUSPIRIA knew exactly what it needed to be, and nothing more. Argento's genius was discovering a unique and interesting setting for a film, and creating a brilliant hook through the mystery of what happens in the rain that first night. Guadagnino's film, by contrast, is far-reaching--feeling the need to pull in real world politics, the Amish (!?), and refocusing the story around an old man whose past and suffering somehow correlate to this coven located in Berlin. I don't get it one bit.

If I am willing to dive in a little, I think that this coven finds home in Berlin because the negativity and hatred and guilt fuelled by a nation of shamed and hidden Nazi's is the perfect place for evil to manifest and grow. Maybe. But what I can say is this willingness to pair intellectual ideas with outlandish horror tropes is exactly what this genre needs. There is no other movie that is even remotely like this SUSPIRIA, not even Argento's. A one-of-a-kind experience and unique perspective of a national history of pain.

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