From the writer of less-than-stellar remake The Invasion and the director of Call Me By Your Name, this Amazon Studios remake (revisioning?) of the Dario Argento horror classic had a lot to live up.
The Markos Dance Company is one of the most prestigious studios of its kind in all of Europe. Located in Berlin, its head instructor Madame Blanc somehow managed to keep it and its female wards free of Nazi interference in World War II: War-tastic Boogaloo. Going strong as ever in 1977, their prize student Patricia has gone missing to the great concern of her psychiatrist, Dr. Klemperer. Ranting about witches and being groomed for sinister intentions by the school’s staff, the notion that she’s simply joined an underground band of revolutionaries embroiled in the social upheaval permeating Berlin at the time seems a good enough story for the company to maintain plausible deniability. Dr. K though? Not so much.
Amid the mysterious happenings at Markos, American amateur dancer Susie Banion has just rolled in seeking a position with the troupe. After acing her audition (despite no formal training), she’s accepted and embraced by Miss Blanc and quickly makes her way up the ranks due to the recent absence of Pats, being so bold as to volunteer as the new lead in their big upcoming production! Now the young Mennonite from Ohio is the one being groomed for great purpose by Blanc and her staff, but will she figure it out soon enough to escape with her innocence intact? Not before a LOT of German interpretive dance!
Suspiria suffers from the instant stigma of being a remake, compounded by the fact that the movie it’s remaking has a rabid cult following, compounded further by the fact that the movie’s lead is being played by the woman who starred in those fucking Fifty Shades of Grey movies. On the positive side of this, though, director Guadagnino and writer Kajganich forego any pretense of “are they or aren’t they?” regarding the status of the faculty’s involvement in the dark arts, allowing them to embrace the theme with both arms and explore the inner politics and practices of their coven instead. There’s a power struggle between those who want to grasp desperately to the old ways and those who want to progress with the times. It bluntly parallels the subplot of social turmoil in the city at the time, as well as with many areas of the world today, including, in no small way, the socio-political ideals currently at odds here in the US.
And if you don’t give a flying turd zeppelin about this type of topic interrupting your trippy-ass horror movies, I don’t blame you. This is probably one of the more divisive remakes to come down the proverbial pipeline in the last 20 years. Whatever your opinion on it, either based on your personal viewing, what you’ve heard secondhand or what your general knee jerk “I don’t need to see it to know how I feel about it”reaction, our opinions are just that – opinions. By their very nature, opinions are neither correct nor incorrect. As such, I’d like to ask that you keep that in mind in regard to my next statement: I could not find a single thing about Suspiria that I didn’t like.
HOLD YOUR FIRE!
At first blush, I thought the idea of a 2.5hr remake of Suspiria was guaranteed to be over-indulgent. That’s not just the default buzz word particularly average people use when trying to piss on productions that go over their head or that they just don’t “get”. In this case, those 150+ minutes of movie were well utilized. I wasn’t bored at any moment while sitting there watching it. When I wasn’t intrigued by the turmoil of the faction or the tormenting of our protagonista, I was enthralled by the intensity of the dancers and the way the director highlighted the contortion and outright deformity of their bodies to accomplish their movements. The rhythmic writhing and undulation, especially during the climax performance, kept my attention rapt. I was enamored in a non-exploitative way at the talent and dedication of these women and the spell their movements cast. Imagine me as a taller, hairier version of Danny DeVito at the end of the ”It’s Always Sunny” season 14 finale to get an idea of just how deeply I was drawn into these sequences.
Visually, the movie doesn’t try to play with its color scheme the way Argento’s original vision did. Aside from some eye rattling fever dreams visited upon Susie and a visual hellscape of a final act, the air of the production is very much anchored in the real world to remind us of the conflicts going on around us. Gods damn it, I can’t keep talking like this without wanting to punch myself in the stomach for coming off like such a ponce! Fuck it. I love this movie. Hours after watching it I was lying awake, almost upset by the fact that I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. For the sake of my remaining sanity, I finally gave in. For anyone who can’t forgive me for saying it, do what you need to, but for me, the 2018 Suspiria is a perfect movie.
Well, with the exception of Tilda Swinton playing an old man. The shape of her face, the sound of her voice, the intensity of her eyes, I just wasn’t able to see her as anything other than Tilda Swinton in old man prosthetics. THERE! THERE’S YOUR PINT OF BLOOD, YOU VAMPIRES! *HISSSSSSS*
Five Witchy Poos out-of-Five
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