Suspiria ★★★½

This remake is certainly interesting. It doesn't come close to living up to the original for me, but that's acceptable; I hold Argento's Suspiria in such high regard for its unique energy and passion that I didn't expect this to surpass it. The good news is that this new version certainly isn't content to ride on the coattails of the original as a pale imitation. New Suspiria is full of such bold divergence that it feels inspired by the original while being a fully unique piece. And I'm further pleased to say that my sort of good-but-not-great rating isn't due to the experience being somewhat enjoyable but overall forgettable. Rather, it's a good movie that's loaded with elements to love and hate, which is far more interesting.

The negatives mostly just center around this film feeling overstuffed. There's an outside plot about a psychiatrist investigating the witches, his relationship with his missing wife, and even a lot of ties to historical events (both nazis and the German Autumn). I can somewhat see thematic ties here, but nonetheless I don't think the storylines really mesh in a satisfying way in the end. Scenes outside of the academy mostly serve to deflate the tension and steal the focus away from what I really want to see. I'm also not a fan of the way the witches are sort of de-mystified, taking a lot of the fear out of them.

Nonetheless, when the film is good, it's really good. It's certainly more coherent than the original; I'm willing to mostly make an exception for Argento's Suspiria because I think it approaches dreamlike writing so I don't mind that conversations don't quite make sense. Still, it's nice that this time the girls seem to be actually learning to dance, the conversations don't drift into nothing and contradict themselves, and the threats are much more sensible (no deaths in the barbed wire closet here). There is some really interesting sound design and editing making the dance scenes unsettling and visceral, with powerful grunts emphasizing each move. And that climax... I won't talk about it in detail for fear of spoilers, but that is what a supernatural ritual should look like, it's so bizarre and otherworldly. That particular scene is amazing and is what makes me really fondly look back on my experience with this movie.

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