Tom Zavertnik’s review published on Letterboxd:
Suspiria. Directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, A Bigger Splash). Set in Berlin, Germany 1977, amidst the divided political country, a young woman from America, joins an acclaimed dance company, only death and magical feats of ambiguity surround her and everyone at the academy.
My most anticipated film of the year has arrived. Being a huge fan of the original I was quite skeptical about a remake. Though this is less of a remake and more of a reenvisioning of the 1977 giallo original of the same name. While parts of the overall narrative and lore share resemblance, the execution and presentation portrays a completely different film.
The film's structure is built around six Acts and an Epilogue, which makes for a hefty runtime of about 2 hours and 30 minutes. But for me, it flew by so fast, as the film had casted its spell and locked my consciousness in from the first shot to the last.
The film is such a hypnotic nightmarish experience that's unlike anything I've ever seen. The frantic but purposeful editing, the haunting yet mesmerizing score from Thom Yorke, the elaborate camera eye's gaze of zooms and twirls, all work in conjunction in pulling you into its surrealist coventry. It's a film that requires your full attention, with multiple storylines moving on their own while also being thoroughly connected, all with their own mysterys and secrets.
Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton give such powerful performances, with Johnson's being career defining. They give such an off-beat and weirdly familial presence. The choreography and movement of the dancing is devilishly stunning, that feels so transformative not only for the characters but for the viewer. I could only imagine how difficult the blocking and staging of those scenes must have been.
Unlike the original, this film has a very strong political presence that deals hugely with the traumatic scars of 1940s Nazism and the 1970s conflict between both sides of Germany. The narrative that relates to these conflicts is the only bit of the film that I wish had a bigger impact on me. I fully understand its pathological reasoning for its inclusion, it just felt so over-shadowed by the main narrative, I never got fully attached to it. It didn't ruin the film for me by any means, I just felt it could have been stronger. But overall, everything fits together nicely.
Suspiria is a dance of witchery worship, lead with a slow moving opening, building to a deathly finale, that ends with a twist that turns the whole story upside down. It's pure horror fantasy, etched with reminiscent yet current political commentary, and colored in with stark grayish tones until everything becomes bloody red.