Suspiria ★★★

LFF #21

The deluge of colour, sound, music, and rain in the opening five mins of Argento's original is aesthetically better than anything in the whole 140 minutes of this questionable retread.

'77 Suspiria blew my mind. This did not.

Completely drained of its ghost train iridescence and phantasmagoric surreality, I really wasn't too sure of the geographic purpose or point of a 1980's Berlin that's between worlds, but all those concrete greys in chilly scenes of winter, at times made me think this was a closer remake of Let the Right One In than the film it is ostensibly reimagining.

In place of the challenging film that requires you to change the way you watch them and get on board with an experimental, sensory-driven dream logic only equaled by Lynch, we now have a conventionally plotted arthouse horror whose forsaken, witchy mood is largely spearheaded by one icily perfect Tilda Swinton performance and disrupted entirely by another of Swinton encased in goofy makeup. Maybe it was because Udo Kier just happened to randomly pop up in Daughter of Mine, the film I immediately dashed from to make this, but as a nod to the original, why not cast one its stars here (sans prosthetics) and once again, jokingly have him supremely off-brand by playing the most normal character in the film?

There's one incredible death scene of Dakota Johnson giving herself to the dance and her seemingly possessed moves causing another unfortunate student in the next room to throw shapes that contort her body into thrashing, bone-snapping death throes, but as the single set piece that stands on a par with Argento's beautifully baroque series of deaths, it seems to erupt from almost nowhere, not fitting the tone of the film around it. Director Luca Guadagnino then makes us wait forever until he goes full-tilt boogie on the succubus-of-Satan insanity again, but unfortunately, when it finally arrives, the murkily lit scene is bathed in CGI blood as cheaply disappointing as the gore of the recent The Predator. Not only that, this orgy of death is shot almost entirely in Peter Jackson/Ridley Scott fake slo-mo like witchcraft gone horribly wrong. The only way this could actually be a deliberate decision is in trying to obscure a pretty pitiful creature design.

While Thom Yorke's creepy-in-the-moment but wholly unmemorable score doesn't deserve to burn in the same hell as the unprecedented Goblin soundtrack, Guadagnino does have the Giallo master squarely beat in one area that for me, ups this film's rating a whole star. The clannish, punishing, religiosity of the world of dance.

The ballet academy that was before a laughably unconvincing afterthought, is here fully realized; the animalistic primitivism of these expertly edited sequences taking up a deserved and expansive chunk of the runtime instead of just a few minutes. It really says something that these scenes are as frightening in their intensity as many of the as-impressive nightmare montages with which they are often intercut.

Dakota Johnson in dungarees did things to me dirtier than any of the Fifty Shades films and Swinton as the demanding head of the school is so superb that she alone warrants the price of admission, but even then, she still can't lay claim to being the best witch of 2018, handily outshone by Fatma Mohamed in In Fabric. Sorry, Tilda.

Block or Report

Timothy liked this review