Suspiria ★★★★½

"They'll hollow me out and eat my cunt on a plate"

Patricia (Chloe Grace Moretz) tells this to her therapist Dr. Josef Klemperer (Tilda Swinton), words lost in a steady stream of mumbling and desperate declarations from the rain-drenched girl.
She's beyond scared, perhaps even beyond terrified.
She's afraid of the women running the Helena Markos Dance Academy and says she was right, that they are witches.

Dario Argento's 1977 classic Suspiria is one of my top three favorite Horror films of all time, so I was reserved about the idea of a remake until I found out that Luca Guadagnino would be taking it on.
His efforts prior to Call Me By Your Name didn't thrill me especially, but they always had flavours of greatness, they signified that he was in touch with something, on his way to something.
And while his masterpiece thus far about love and longing somewhere in Northern Italy held no indication of what a reimagining of Suspiria could possibly be like from him, Call Me By Your Name definitely signalled that Guadagnino was someone with enough talent to give it a shot.

More than simply giving it a shot, Guadagnino and co. do something even more special, that is both reverent and original enough to satisfy Horror fans and hardcore Suspiria purists alike.
As Tilda Swinton put it at the London premiere last night, "we made a cover version of a song we love".
This new film takes the whispering nightmares at the core of the original and reworks them into something chic, gloomy and wildly ambitious.
Specifically, its ambition is to get as close as possible to evil.
The concept of evil.
What might that look, sound and feel like on-screen?
How deep into the dark can one go?
That's not to say that Suspiria parades around spewing blood and guts just to rattle us, and it's very carefully measured rather than inline with any kind of extremism, but it does go to places a lot of films can't or won't conceive of.

What potential for destruction resides within the body.
What nascent power waits for women who simply decide to draw it out through ritualistic dance, through physical declarations of dominion?
Are the women of Suspiria witches by choice or by necessity?
The culture around them would suggest they are only reflecting the times and that we're all sure to get what we deserve.
This Suspiria is the Suspiria 2018 needs, an audacious piece that could only ever have come from the here and now.

To state the obvious, Tilda Swinton is great here.
The shape-shifting angel of the arthouse might just have performed her magnum opus in the trio of roles she plays in the film, for me at least it definitely defined everything I love about her work and it feels like she was born to portray Madame Blanc.
Dakota Johnson has some qualities I'm still figuring out but she definitely triumphs here, even if she may be fated to play some brand of ingenue for at least the better part of her career.
Chloe Moretz's role is very small but god is she captivating and if I had to pick a performance as her best of 2018 this one beats Cameron Post for me by ferocity alone.
Mia Goth is very good too, her casting in the part so perfect it almost warrants more acclaim than the turn itself.

With a score as iconic as Goblin's work for the 1977 version looming large, it was absolutely the right choice to not only go with a genius like Thom Yorke, but to not even hint at tribute to the original's music.
Yorke's compositions are the crowning glory of the film and "Suspirium" is undoubtedly the best original song of the year.

My only real criticism after this initial viewing is that the film probably could have done without its epilogue, which feels neither here nor there and somewhat detracts from the Mother!-like third act madness that precedes it.
But like with any great film I'll need to rewatch this to fully decide my view of the finer details but that is my first impression.

Suspiria is a dangerous game played by artists at the top of their craft, invoking things we'd be wise to embrace and permit to filter through us.
I don't think the energy held here takes kindly to rejection.

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