Suspiria ★★★★

Well that was very upsetting!

I'm not precious about Argento's Suspiria in the first place, so I'm far from outraged by Luca Guadagnino and David Kajganich's wildly different adaptation. While I liked all the post-war melancholy and sectoral idiosyncrasies of Berlin in the late 70's, I don't know what the hell it had to do with the story, much less with Suzy's character. I appreciate the historical tangibility, but it seems like little more than some hyper specific set dressing. It does apply to the angst of the witches, which does count for something I suppose.

Anyway, Suspiria is incredibly well made. That editing is so anxiety inducing. It will cut from one shot to the next as though a knife were just flung into frame, except nothing has happened. It's still just a tense dialogue scene. The cruelty behind the cutting creates an anticipatory atmosphere that reaches far beyond the remarkably low bar of modern horror scare tactics. I wasn't scared, but I was thoroughly disturbed. The dance murder/contortion scene is a mini masterpiece. It hurts, and it comes on early. The terror of that is bolstered by two eye melting dream sequences that are essentially the ultimate music videos of your nightmares. And then on comes the finale. Such wonderous extravagance. Those effects... goodness gracious.

But just like the original, there is a shallowness of character. When we do hit that finale, I've somewhat lost my emotional involvement. Everything is still sublime and visceral, but I don't care about Suzy. I like the radically different places they took her character, but I was pretty hazy on the motivation outside of the archetypal elements like revenge against oppression and activation of true potential. She's a character who functions on themes instead of feelings, which isn't a "no-no" by any means, I just wanted to root for her, despise her, or something.

Overall, Suspiria is quite the marvel. I'm sure I'll watch it again just to study all of the superlative craftsmanship.

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