Suspiria ★★★★½

Wow—Luca Guadagnino really out here retconing the Argento classic and it really do be dinging.


It’s a shame this film also had to be named “Suspiria” because it is so so so different from its predecessor in terms of style, narrative, and execution. Aside from their shared starting premise (that there’s a German ballet academy that moonlights as a witches coven), there is genuinely *no other* way to be drawing comparisons between the two.

And I’m so glad that that’s the case; rather than being a shot for shot remake, Guadagnino takes this premise and flips it on its head. It’s both everything we know about Suspiria and nothing we’ve ever seen. This 2018 film takes massive creative liberties with the ‘witching’ aspect of the story. ‘Witchery’ was a crux of the original film, but it all only occurs in the narrative within the last 20 minutes or so—aside from that last act, Argento’s work was just quintessential giallo slasher goodness drenched in a neon red and blue. The Guadagnino work, on the other hand, is a brooding, dark, psychosexual thriller with its own minimalist witching lore, intentionally unexplained. The two films are very much respective products of their times.

The Thom Yorke score I listened to quite a bit standalone works amazing even without the film for context. During the first two acts or so, I did feel that Yorke was out of place with what was going on visually—by the final act and epilogue, the visual and the aural become one-and-one and the haunting falsetto and droning piano really layer-in oh so exquisitely with the climactic visual spectacle.

I really don’t want to say anymore, since I think this was so expertly crafted and does deserve to be seen with no further explanations. Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson are at all-time career highs with no signs of stopping. In summary? Absolutely delirious and manic and twisted and eye-catching. Genuinely disturbing. Brilliant.

Note: I do have one gripe with the film though—I think the dialogue audio mixing is notably bad, at least with how it streams on Amazon Prime. The vocals are very very reverberant, and I found it super hard to make out what anyone was saying in the first two acts. Highly recommend watching with subtitles turned on. Also, this film very deftly transitions between sections entirely in English, in German, and in French. The German subs are colored red, and the French colored blue. That was a nice touch.

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