Suspiria (2018): A True Spell To The Remake Formula
Suspiria (2018) A True Spell To The Remake Formula: The concept of remakes is one of the most controversial topics of the modern film business. We all have our opinion about them. Some people think they are sinful, while others await a final result, but one thing is for sure, a heavy baggage will fall on everyone involved. Suspiria is no exception. Dario Argento is one of the most prominent horror directors in Italian cinematic history, with Suspiria being his most iconic cult classic. When fellow Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino officially announced his involvement with a retelling back in 2015, it was not met with acceptance, especially due to Guadagnino’s lack of a horror background.
The end result that premiered at the 75th Venice Film Festival, however, took everyone by surprise. Guadagnino’s Suspiria (2018) only shared a title, character names, and a very basic premise with Argento’s film. Both versions of Suspiria tell the story of Suzie Bannion, an ingénue American dancer who moves to Berlin with hopes to join Madame Blanc’s prestigious dance academy, but things aren’t quite as it seems, as unspeakable horrors begin to unravel. Here is where the similarities end.
Related to Suspiria (2018): Suspiria (1977): A Giallo Masterpiece
In Suspiria (2018), we are introduced into a real-world, 1977 Berlin during the conflictive times of the German Autumn. Just like his previous works, Guadagnino brings a sensorial element to Suspiria that heightens the experience. We can feel the rain in our shoes, the dread of war, even the toxicity of tear gas in the air, already a 180 degrees change on Argento’s original. Entering the scene is Patricia Hingle (Chloe Grace Moretz), who arrives at the office of psychiatrist Dr. Josef Klemperer (Tilda Swinton). Hingle is exasperated and afraid as she reveals that the Markos Dance Academy is being managed by a coven of witches. Klemperer dismisses Hingle as delusional.
We cut to rural Ohio where a terminally ill woman lies on her deathbed, an unsettling sequence woven to the tunes of Thom Yorke who serves as the film’s composer. It is revealed that she is Suzie Bannion’s mother as we move to Suzie (Dakota Johnson) arriving in war-torn Berlin. One of the biggest differences between both versions is the focus on dance itself. The new Suspiria introduces its audience to hypnotic and often disturbing dance sequences that will bring chills and thrills to horror fanatics. Suzie auditions, is accepted, and rapidly ascends the ranks of the shady dance company, sometimes at the expense of her fellow dancers. Suspiria concludes with one of the most polarizing moments in horror history.
David Kajganich’s screenplay of Suspiria (2018) encompasses a dark time in human history, which is not explored in a satisfying way, which is one of the film’s biggest critiques. While the times of the Red Army Faction may excite historic film enthusiasts, it truly leads nowhere within the walls of the film. The true magic of Suspiria lies in its hellish atmosphere that grabs you by the throat and does not let go. Unfortunately, the writing and atmosphere seem to engage in a constant fistfight that affects the overall enjoyment of the film.
The cinematography in hands of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom mixed with Walter Fasano’s eye-popping editing brings to life the Giallo elements that have been regarded as dead for a very long time. Suspiria still strikes as style over substance as its predecessor did in the past. The most outstanding work comes from the hair and makeup department, which provides some cutthroat moments that make Suspiria worth it for its over 3 hours runtime. Suspiria (2018) offers some striking visuals that are not for the faint of heart, despite the muted color palette that covers it.
Suspiria is also driven by its talented female cast lead by Dakota Johnson trying to find redemption as an up-and-coming talent. The true star is Tilda Swinton who pulls a Peter Sellers, with 3 larger than life characters. As usual, Swinton brings gravitas and prestige to a film that otherwise would not be as compelling without her.
In conclusion, while Suspiria (2018) may be overstuffed with pointless plot points, it still is the living image of what a remake should be, two sides of the same coin. One story, two insanely different faces. Guadagnino breaks through as one of the most exciting filmmakers currently working, even with such a divisive filmography and structural problems that as of now, are still haunting him.