(4.5 / 5)
I’m not a fan of the Dario Argento film Suspiria. Dubbing causes a dissonance in my head that is only surpassed by found-footage films. Beyond that, I just don’t really enjoy the giallo genre or the groundbreaking films of Argento and Fulci. I respect their contribution to the horror universe, but only watch the films to understand the cultural significance. That said, I’m still a bit hesitant when revered titles get remade. Director Luca Guadagnino has taken the shell of the original Suspiria and twisted expectations on their head.
Still set in 1977, the new iteration follows Susie (Dakota Johnson) as she arrives in West Berlin to join prestigious Markos Dance Academy. Despite limited dancing experience, Susie quickly becomes the focus of the instructors. While Susie improves, others in the company are suspicious of her quick ascent and the proprietors of their study. The deeper people dig, the more disturbing the truth behind the Academy’s history becomes.
Like this year’s Hereditary, Suspiria is a horror epic. Long and slowly building tension, it rarely lets up in the 152-minute run-time. Peppered with some disturbing imagery and a fantastically bleak final half an hour, the film works in ratcheting up unease and paranoia as it deliberately unwinds. The moments that linger after the credits are not the most disturbing graphically, but most emotional. The characters, specifically Dakota Johnson’s Susie and Mia Goth’s Sara are well-developed and engaging.
It’s unsettling and bizarre but also oddly beautiful in its restraint. Allowing the setting and characters to fill the space in lieu of gore and spectacle, Suspiria is one of the richest horror films of the year. Bound to achieve classic status once the divisiveness subsides. 4.5 out of 5 stars