Suspiria ★★★★★

In October, I attended London Film Festival to see Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Suspiria’, a surprising and radical reimagining of Dario Argento’s 1977 film. The story is centred around Susie Bannion (Jessica Harper/Dakota Johnson), a young American, who moves to Germany to attend a prestigious dance school; over time, it becomes apparent that the school is home to something supernatural and sinister.

With the original Giallo being recognised as a cult classic and one of the most influential horrors of all time, many questioned whether the ‘Call Me by Your Name’ director would be up to the task of remaking it. Though polarizing reviews suggest that many would disagree, I felt Guadagnino to be incredibly successful; this success, however, may be due to the fact that he did everything but ‘remake’ the original. Using only the bare bones of Argento and Nicolodi’s story, the 2018 release feels almost completely unrelated. Drained of colour, but not of style, ‘Suspiria’ has been reborn.

Written by David Kajganich, the film is split into six acts and an epilogue, adding almost an hour onto the runtime and offering further exploration of the characters and mysteries of Markos’ Dance Company. Guadagnino’s masterpiece builds on typical gendered archetypes and highlights femininity as a powerful force, with the director claiming it to be a “fierce showcase of the female artistic experience.” Though she may be considered strong-willed in the original, Johnson’s Susie is much bolder. She is empowered and confident, despite being ‘the new girl’, she is unafraid to push her body’s limits and be at the centre of attention. Sara (Mia Goth) also has more depth; demanding answers and analysing a missing friend’s diaries, she becomes the prime detective of the story. Tilda Swinton is phenomenal as always, but goes one step further, playing two central characters, Madame Blanc and Dr Klemperer. Klemperer is a man plagued with the guilt of his past and this is only added to as the film goes on; with him being criticised for his ignorance towards women. A contrasting character, Blanc transcends the typical horror villain with moments of warmth and what appears to be motherly love. Throughout the film, Blanc and Susie mirror each other, highlighting the close bond the student and teacher share...

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