Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)
Chloe Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Doris Hick
A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.
I thought this was disgusting rubbish.
In the future, if there is one, film historians chronicling the death of auteurist cinema will cite Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria as the point where this mode of moviemaking definitively entered its decadent stage. This empty, overstuffed, ugly and thoughtless remake - Guadagnino apparently prefers the term “cover version” - of the grindhouse-surreal 1977 film directed by Dario Argento is a breathtaking achievement in hollow, know-somethingish sensationalism that fully deserves to be called “pretentious.” And quite a few other things. Glenn Kenny.
Luca Guadagnino’s homage to the classic giallo – with Dakota Johnson’s hexed dancer transposed to punk-era Berlin – is a confoundingly inside-out one, an extended exercise in metafictional annotation that insists on dragging the original’s darkest metaphors into the light.
Dario Argento’s landmark, lurid Italo-horror Suspiria becomes a drawn-out descent into the depths of decadence under the direction of Luca Guadagnino. Just don’t call it a remake – Guadagnino himself describes his take as an ‘homage’ inspired by his teenage experience of watching Argento’s film, which he and screenwriter David Kajganich have sculpted into six acts and an epilogue set in Berlin in 1977, the year the original was released. Perhaps the most immediate difference between this new Suspiria and its predecessor is its length. Guadagnino’s version boasts an extra hour of runtime compared to Argento’s trim, minimalist, 100-minute fever dream, and that extra wiggle room is filled with scene-setting, side-plots and new streams of subtext that complement the core narrative of a prestigious dance school supposedly hiding a subterranean, supernatural secret. Michael Leader.
The film aims to say something about the futility of trying to escape the past, despite fervent efforts at rebirth. The fact that Suspiria boasts a powerful, predominately female cast – led by Johnson, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler, Ingrid Caven and multiple Tilda Swintons – certainly speaks to the formidable nature of feminine strength. But just as he’s building a steady, suspenseful momentum, Guadagnino too often cuts away to the tumult encompassing all of Berlin: a city split in two, struggling to reestablish itself post-Nazism, but still being torn apart by attacks from the leftist Baader-Meinhof Group. That feels like an entirely different film, one that blends ambitiously yet awkwardly with the story at the stylishly rotting core of Suspiria. Christy Lemire.
Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 22 February, 2019 | Now: 11 March, 2019