Suspiria ★★★★★

I might be the one person in the world best suited to deliver an objective comparison between Luca Guadagninos remake and the original Suspiria made in 1977 by (undeservingly) canonized horror director Dario Argento. There are two strong reasons for this; the first being that I saw the remake before the original - but watched both the same night, and the second, and perhaps more important, that I have neither a nostalgic connection to Argento or the film that most people consider to be his best. This gave me the prerequisites to actually judge both films according to the basic laws of reviewing films, comparing everything from script to direction, casting to acting performances and technical aspects such as score, editing, cinematography and special effects.

This experiment was extremely interesting for several reasons, but one of the more important as there recently has sparked vibrant discussions amongst fanboys and fangirls (self-professed specialists, that often know nothing, or very little, about filmmaking from a technical perspective, but rather are experts on their own subjective feelings) regarding remakes. The remake of Suspiria has by many people been regarded as totally superfluous and unnecessary, as Argento's original is the "perfect masterpiece". Even though I believe Argento's overall film production to be somewhat overrated, I entered this experiment with the notion that this could absolutely be the case, albeit somewhat sceptical.

After having finished both films it is with outmost certainty that I can conclude to what extent nostalgia effects people's rational possibility to judge art. Guadagnino is far superior in every department of filmmaking compared to his compatriot. I would even go so far as to say that, when excluding context of creation in relation to time, there's no sane person that could say that the original is anywhere near its successor. While my score on Guadagnino's remake is 10/10 the original is awarded 4/10 (and that's with a touch of slight generosity).

Let's not go into the most apparent differences between the two films (the obvious advantages Guadagnino has at his disposal due to time in terms of special effects etc) in this review, but rather focus on what sets the two films apart and also underlines the argument that remakes as a phenomenon can be quite welcomed: the script and execution of the script.

While Argento's so called masterpiece feels like an ordinary, and to be frank, quite mundane, horror film, that from beginning to end play on clichés and dramatic music intended to heighten what tension the imagery fail to deliver, Guadagnino's version is a carefully arranged piece with expert sense of tempo. The script in Argento's version is simple and sometimes quite ridiculous (bats and dogs attacking people with different levels of success), while what Guadagnino is working with moves slowly along the lines of a well orchestrated drama, only to culminate in a furious climax at the end of the sixth act.

The ability to make a "realistic" horror film that is not a horror film, or rather not feels like a horror film, is something few directors have. The extra hour runtime in the remake (vs the original) is utilised in a fantastic way, adding metaphorical depth to the plot and allowing the suspense to slowly built up, rather than to nuke the fridge as the original does.

It goes without saying (this is a disadvantage many old horror flicks have to live with) that the acting is quite poor and sometime borderline cheesy in Argento's version, while Guadagnino showcase one of the strongest casts I've seen in this kind of film ever. Taking the analysis beyond the cast as a collective, while the madame Blanc of the '77 version is an anonymous crone without any charisma, Tilda Swinton, with her unusual appearance and squinty eyes, performs perfectly in the role and illustrates how big the difference can be between two actors with basically the same (even though that might be a little unfair by comparison) task.

To conclude, I am so happy that I belong to the group of people (probably a huge minority) that can view Guadagnino's modern masterpiece without a preset notion of what should and what should not be done. Because, in honesty, if you don't like this film, and for the wrong reason, you're missing out on something truly amazing and you're being fucked over by your brain.

See the ranking of this film and all others I've seen this year here!

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