“Suspiria” (2018) by Luca Guadagnino

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Cinematography: Sayombhou Mukdeeprom

Writers: David Kajganich (screenplay), Dario Argento (characters), Daria Nicoldi (characters)

Editor: Walter Fasano

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia Goth

Rating: 68

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As someone who lives-and-dies with Argento’s original film, a highly stylized horror that, in many ways, helped mold the genre. The news of a remake made me apprehensive but optimistic for another “Suspiria” with a similarly unique Italian filmmaker, Luca Guadagnino, directing the film. And while the film does share a similar cult-like vibe to its predecessor, the story also throws out a mountain of unnecessary plot elements that distract from the very best aspects of the film.

My hottest take, though? Thom Yorke’s score, while beautiful isolated from the film, does not in any ways match the tone. In hyper-surreal moments, the Yorke score did nothing more than take me out of the scene. Certain songs fit the mold, but overall, it felt like a weird use of his talents. His score, at times, lacked energy which this story fed off of.

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Now, while I had my qualms with the script, Luca’s direction is worthy of admiration. He took the idea of Suspiria and expanded it while finding ways to keep it grounded like the original. His vision was much broader the Argento, using political upheaval as a major plot point, and throwing in sub-plots for characters that didn’t seem to matter in the end and have abrupt endings. On the other hand, these subplots lead to more Tilda Swinton, which is never a bad thing.

And unfortunately, the sheer amount of ideas thrown into the script made it tough on the editing and directing portions of the film. Finding ways to fill in story gaps, which in turn made the editing feel so jumbled and lost. Sometimes less-is-more, and in the case of Suspiria, less story and exposition would’ve helped out quite a bit. It turns the story from the experience and focuses it on many different aspects that make each passing moment less impactful.

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Now that isn’t to say Suspiria doesn’t have great moments. Truly great scenes that will have a lasting impact. Only a few scenes in 2018 have captivated me as much of the first time Dakota Johnson takes the floor and we get some amazing cross-cutting of how powerful and mesmerizing her character is in the film juxtaposed to the witchcraft happening below. Watching Tilda Swinton’s character have an orgasmic-like reaction to her dance was palpable. Same can be said for the entirety of the final act, but overall, the story severely lacked these moments while focusing on the mundane of these characters.

For one thing, I believe my opinion on Suspiria will change over time. The story isn’t easily decipherable and lends itself to deeper analyzation of the ideas presented here, but again, there’s a heap of the story here. It’s very complex, at times, and takes the vantage point of the witches, rather than the students. Early on, we learn of a small split between the “mothers” and that story element is the driving force behind everything. That, in turn, made the movie far less suspenseful than it could’ve been.

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As for the technical and performance aspects, everything was fine. The cinematography, shot by “Call Me by Your Name” cinematographer Sayombhou Mukdeeprom, was good but took some liberties later in the film that didn’t quite work and made some scenes feel amateurish. As for the acting, Tilda Swinton puts on a Peter Sellers inspired performance, playing three vastly different characters. However, none of those characters were particularly interesting and required blankness rather than emotion. Dakota Johnson’s physical acting stood out, as well as the editing during her dance sets, while most of her dialogue scenes just feel empty until the fifth act.


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I credit Luca’s dreary, dark vision for the film separates itself from the Argento, and in some ways, expanding the universe of Suspiria. But this film lost me on a narrative level when the film didn’t have to be so story driven. It inconsistently works in creating powerful moments, while the lack of cohesion through the script threw me.


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