From Amazon Studios comes director Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of the 1977 horror classic Suspiria. Patricia Hingle (Chloe Grace Moretz), a student at Markos Dance Academy, makes an appointment with Dr. Josef Klemperer (Lutz Ebersdorf) to control some paranoia she is experiencing. Naturally, Dr. Klemperer thinks that Patricia is just delusional, however after Patricia disappears, the doctor realizes that the young girl was telling the truth. Patricia’s disappearance sets our plot in motion as it creates an opening for Ohio native Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) at the studio.
Susie, who grew up as a Mennonite, has always had a love of dance and after a successful audition, becomes the lead choreographer Madame Blanc’s (Tilda Swinton) protégé. Madame Blanc gives Susie the lead role in Volk and soon Susie is a shining star among her fellow dancers. Meanwhile, Susie’s new friend Sara (Mia Goth), has sought out the help of Dr. Klemperer to figure out just what happened to her friend Patricia. Will Susie find success as a dancer or end up disappearing the same way Patricia did?
The screenplay, by David Kajganich, makes the wise choice to set the film in 1977, which does add to some of the paranoia of the film, and allows the director to use the historical event, German Autumn as a perfect backdrop. Some of the films best moments involve cross cutting scenes between real world events and the plot. I also enjoyed director Luca Guadagnino’s’ creative approach to one of the film’s kills, which occurs as Susie is completing a dance. The acting by Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth and Tilda Swinton are first rate as Kajganich’s script gives each of their characters a strong arc.
While there were a few things I did enjoy in Suspiria, throughout the film, I found myself checking my watch often, which is never a good sign. The original version of Suspiria is only ninety-two minutes, while the remake clocks in at over two and half hours which is one of the remake’s flaws. The extra hour does not add anything of merit to the film, and ends up hurting the overall narrative. The score was also a letdown, as there was never a moment where I truly felt tension. When we reach our climax of Suspiria, I thought for sure this is when the scares would happen, sadly they never do. On the contrary, the audience receives a twist that does work, but the twist does not save Suspiria from being a disjointed mess.
Thankfully, the studio made the wise choice not to bill Suspiria as a horror film or use a tag line such as “Downright terrifying”, since that is not the vibe the director was going for. Suspiria is easily a film that is going to divide audiences as some will love it and others will hate it. I am still torn on whether I am truly fond of the film or not. While I did not hate Suspiria, I also do not recommend it.
Director Dario Argento’s 1977 version of Suspiria is one of my favorite horror films. Forty-one years later the original film still holds up, primarily due to a spooky soundtrack, and innovative kills. Any director who took on a remake of the film was going to have a tough time matching Dario Argento, so it is no surprise that director Luca Guadagnino’s remake fails more than it succeeds.
Final Grade C-