Going into this remake of Dario Argento’s giallo classic of the same name, the question on everyone’s lips is: will it be as good or possibly even better than the original?
The answer is: it simply doesn’t matter.
While it’s advertised as a remake, it’s more of a homage to the original, only keeping hints of story, themes and characters of its predecessor – it throws everything else out of the window.
Taking place this time in Germany – specifically Berlin – rather than Italy, Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria takes place in the same year as the original movie’s release (1977). Despite these differences, it follows the same plot: young American, Susie Bannion is accepted at an extremely prestigious dance school, run by a coven of witches.
The differences between Guadagnino and Argento’s versions of the film came from the involvement of screenwriter, David Kajganich, who confessed he wasn’t a fan of Dario Argento’s version. Kajganich wanted to take a practical approach, showing how the coven would operate within the school. This approach works wonderfully as it makes the story it’s own, taking almost nothing from the original while still paying its respects.
Guadagnino’s willingness to take such an approach also allowed for more freedom with the story, in which he takes full advantage of, taking the dancing and witchcraft to the limit.
Because of this freedom, Guadagnino is able to inject himself into it, sticking to what he knows, which really brings out the auteur side of his work – using some of the same crew and cast from his previous films as well as keeping the movie at a slow pace.
However one of the most significant features of the original Suspiria is also one of the regular features throughout Guadagnino’s work: the beautiful use of colour. The use of colours are different from Luca’s previous creations as well as different from the original Suspiria, instead he opts for a far more bleak feel, understating the colour of the film while still making it look beautiful.
What adds to the gorgeous colours is both the cinematography and editing. Both are extremely unique, the editing appearing hectic throughout, keeping each shot short and even cutting to multiple different cutaways which seem not to mean anything, but really tell so much even from the few seconds they’re on screen. The cinematography is just as fantastic, partnering beautifully with the editing to create for some truly memorable scenes, in particular the dancing, in which the dance the girls perform is juxtaposed with the horrors of the school. A perfect mixture of art and pain, a sadistic style of filmmaking.
The only real complaint I have is that literally everything in the film is important. This will sound like a good thing and it is for the most part, it’s just that there are frequent moments of confusion. Scenes where it’s not clear until later on what the connection is to everything else. Clearly this is the intention, however, due to the high importance of everything else in the movie, when these scenes happen, you become fixated on what the connection is, which takes you out of the movie, lessening the understanding as well as the experience.
From Thom Yorke’s fantastic score (which must be said, isn’t quite as good as fellow bandmate Jonny Greenwood’s score for You Were Never Really Here, but certainly comes close) to the cinematography, solid script and acting – almost everything impresses.
Many of the film’s areas deserve Oscar nods, most notably Tilda Swinton’s duel performance as Madame Blanc and Dr. Josef Klemperer.
Overall, Suspiria is damn near perfect. One of my favourite films of 2018.