Suspiria ★★★

I had rewatched the original recently in preparation for this new version, and one of the most surprising things about the new Suspiria was that it was both more and less confusing than its predecessor.

For all the garish fever dream style and the weird tone and pacing of the original, it was a relatively simple tale of an outsider finding herself trapped among an occult nightmare. Luca Guadagnino's re-imagining is less fever dream, more creepy oppressive slow burn that feels bloated and convoluted with more lore, subplots, and characters.

The general premise remains the same: American student Susie Bannion arrives at an elite German dance academy that happens to be home to a coven of witches. The original exuded off-kilter weirdness and presented a twisted reality, the horror coming from its unorthodox style as much as the occult. This film is more subtle and quietly unsettling, with a focus on gradually escalating dread and moments of horrific violence and disturbing imagery. The subdued colder aesthetic makes the academy seem more like a prison, a feeling reflected by the setting of Cold War-era Berlin

But for all its bleak atmosphere, 70s-style approach to horror, gruesome violence, and the escalation of its finale, Suspiria was neither as disturbing, tense, or unsettling as I had hoped. In a lot of ways, I think I preferred the simpler tale and unusual style of the original. The overstuffed narrative here had me spending more time trying to figure what was happening, trying to follow along with the twists and plot and backstory, rather than being immersed in the horror.

In the end, I enjoyed this remake more as a film, but felt the original was more effective with its overwhelming atmosphere and skewed sense of reality.

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