One can argue the past few years, cinephiles have been subjected to a mixed of remakes. There is the other argument do these movies deserved an second (third, forth, fifth…). How many of those movies really were ‘remakes’ like Luca Guadagnino‘s Suspiria?
After it’s cinematic release in late 2018, MUBI finally gave the film it’s long overdue home release a year on. . The Call Me By Your Name director ‘homage’ to Dario Argento‘s subliminal 1977 horror of the same name. Call it how you like, when news broke of a ‘remake’ in the works it was greeted with scepticism and trepidation. Suspiria is it’s own beast of a film, whilst been an avant garde eulogy to the original.
In Guadagnino’s Suspiria, we find ourselves once again in the 1970’s. Susie Bannon (Dakota Johnson) is an ambitious but naive American girl chasing her childhood dream in becoming an professional dancer. She heads to Berlin, Germany for an audition at the world renowned Helena Markos Dance Company.
Successful in her audition , she quickly rises through the ranks of the school. Largely thanks to the mentoring from Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), the schools enigmatic director. Eventually she becomes the school’s lead dancer. The outgoing lead dancer accuses the school’s directors of witchcraft. With accusations flying high , curious dancers and inquisitive psychotherapist Dr Klemperer (Swinton)decide to investigate further. Uncovering the dark and sinister secrets lie in the underground chambers beneath their feet.
Those purists looking for a like for like remake of Argento’s version maybe disappointed. Gone is the baroque fairytale settings of Frieburg , Germany replaced by the Rainer Fassbinder drabness of a divided Berlin. The iconic Kaleidoscope colour pallette that gave Argento’s cult classic a distinctive look is no more. It gave that film an extra dimension, but thanks to Thom Yorke‘s (Radiohead) score fills that void perfectly with atmosphere .
The slasher tropes have been replaced with something more deeper and supernatural. The school is no longer purely an Ballet school, now one of modern dance. A dance that becomes primal, hypnotic that bonds the students with the coven alike. Not even those girls who attempt to escape or question the school can break the chains, are met with a bloody horrific demise.
The major difference between the two films will be the new film’s running time. The original 1977 is around 90 minutes long compared to the new one which is 2 hours 30 minutes long. You could argue the movie needs some trimming, but the six chapters and epilogue gives you ample time to understand Susie and the coven. The original movies story was paper thin. Despite the premise been very similar, thanks to David Kajganich‘s script gives the characters some depth and characters a background.
Suspiria is very reflective of the decade its set in. Germany in the 1970’s was still tormented by it’s sins of World War II. Berlin divide by the wall, a country terrorised by the leftest Red Faction Army. The school is covered by mirrors reflecting the guilt, the shame, men are mocked for their cruelty to humanity.
Suspiria won’t be for everyone. Luca Guadagnino version respects Dario Argento’s magnus opus as well as subverting things. Creating a complexed, multi-layered unsettling horror which is violent at times. A feminist fairytale that’s beautiful, expressive and grotesque. If your a purist, your reward awaits you in the final third of the film. Trust me its unashamedly bonkers!
Horror, Mystery | Italy, 2018 | 18 | Blu-Ray, DVD | MUBI | Dir.Luca Guadagnino | Dakota Fanning, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jessica Harper