Suspiria ★★★★½

Almost certain to be the most polarizing film since “mother!” split audiences between rapture and embarrassment last fall, Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” is a coldly violent seance for the evils of the 20th century, none of which are quite as dead as we might have once hoped. Based on the screenplay of Dario Argento’s giallo classic, Guadagnino’s radical new take is less a remake of the original than it is an estranged sibling — the fraternal twin sister who recognized herself as the black sheep of an already twisted family, ran away from home to become a fascist, and has dressed in gray every day since then. Only by drawing some blood can you tell the two are even related.

As grim and severe as Argento’s film was ecstatic and harlequin, this “Suspiria” offers a richer, more explicit interpretation of that old nightmare; it digs up the latent anxieties of that story like someone picking at a scab and watching with a queasy mix of horror and delight as the pus seeps out and makes everything literal. Those ideas don’t always have the emotional force to justify the degree of self-harm, but Guadagnino’s wicked opus ultimately cares more about the scars it leaves behind than it does the violence that caused them, or might cut them open again.


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