Suspiria ★★½

Right from it's opening, Luca Guadagnino's remake of Suspiria sets up its stall perfectly. An elderly psychologist (played, under some masterful prosthetic work, by Tilda Swinton) meets, for the last time, with a recent absconder from the city's prestigious dance academy. Her movement is erratic, her 'delusion' causing her to turn down all images in the room so that no eyes can be on her, other than her doctor.
Elsewhere, in a shot not dissimilar to the 'Father, would you help an old alter boy?' scene from The Exorcist, a new arrival catches her train to Berlin.
At this point, dear reader, I so, so wanted to give myself to this dance.
I'm more torn over Suspiria than I will be any other movie this year or likely next. I will no doubt see it again, and will hope that I get more of the texture & flavour notes than this initial swig gave me.

WARNING for spoilers -
(I would apologize for tedious, cinema-hipster naval-gazing, but this is Letterboxd, it's what we're all here for)

Whilst never racking up pace into the absolute trip Argento originally took us on, Guadagnino attempts to re-cast the mythology of Suspiria, Inferno and Mother of Tears into modern art-house horror, a collision of surreal dream imagery and , well, gory verisimilitude, metaphors for feminine power & motherhood, sexual abuse, religious control and the occult, against a very literal political historical backdrop of mid-to-late 1970s Germany; national guilt, the spectre of Nazism and the holocaust, the Lufthansa hijacking and the Baader-Meinhoff group. In class, the students of Madame Blanc (also Tilda Swinton), are manipulated into sensational, intricate dance rituals which - as Dakota Johnson's prodigy states outright - is like the casting of a spell.

For all that Argento's batshit-original manages to conjure up; beneath it's abrasive bombardment of colour there is a constant, pervasive sense of threat; insidious, unseen depths within the walls of the academy. Here, sadly, it all feels... blunt.
Whilst, without question, exquisitely directed, sequences are meandering, the visual palette is dulled. Even a memorable set-piece, after one of Madame Blanc's students abruptly quits her school, feels baggy.
This is absolutely not to say that it's without merit - in fact, it stands as one of the most unique genre-pieces of recent years, and there are stand-out scenes, some wonderful performances and a suitably hypnotic score that all score points. Suspiria's sound design and edit is a work of meticulous beauty. Every thrust, sigh or snap lingers. The dance choreography is beautiful.

Hats off, also, to how full-fuckin'-tilt it leans into the absurdist danse-macabre of a final act. At best, it's a prankish, blood-soaked Götterdämmerung of a thing, at worst (and it gets close), it's the unfocused glowstick-throwing corn-maze rave from Freddy vs. Jason.

Suspiria is truly something. I just wish I'd enjoyed it more.

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