From Luca Guadagnino, director of the poignant and beautiful romance ‘Call Me By Your Name’ comes his latest film, ‘Suspiria’ a project in terms of its content which couldn’t be further from his previous film. Serving as a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 film ‘Suspiria’ is a supernatural horror which focuses on a prestigious and mysterious dance company based in 1977 Berlin as a young American dancer, Susie (Dakota Johnson) enrolls.
Divided into six different acts and an epilogue spread over a mammoth two hours and thirty two minutes it was worrying at first that the narrative fails to really entice its audience. Initially the film is hard to follow and lacks context coming dangerously close to being frustrating rather than intriguing. However, as soon as Tilda Swinton’s Madame Blanc appears on screen the narrative becomes much more accessible and the running time ceases to be a problem as the film adopts an effortless pace. What follows this turning point is an unnerving mystery, choreographed expertly achieving a hypnotic narrative which is impossible to resist. The horror here is truly shocking and more often than not difficult to watch. A combination of gruesome imagery, explicit violence and graphic body horror create an often terrifying cinematic experience. The film doesn’t hold a constant sense of fear throughout instead leaving room for the story to be a true mix of genres however when it embraces its horror there’s no escaping it and for many it may well be the most extreme addition to the genre they’ll ever have witnessed.
This horror really goes to the next level in the final acts of the film as the story provides the most disturbing sequences it has to offer. Whilst these moments in particular are true horror spectacles in themselves they genuinely warrant such a “what the fuck!?” response that they risk derailing the whole narrative in the process. The imagery on screen is simply so hard to process that it has the potential to evoke humour instead of terror, or more than likely an unholy mixture of the two. With such challenging content within its narrative the cast’s performances feel even more impressive. Dakota Johnson and the collection of actresses who portray the teachers and students of the dance company create an excellent ensemble. However, it’s without a doubt Tilda Swinton’s triple performance which demands the most attention and praise of the audience. She’s instantly a captivating force as Madame Blanc, a performance responsible for keeping the audience on board with the mystery of the narrative. Although, if this wasn’t enough to impress her other performances bring so much more to the film as well showcasing her fantastic range as an actress all within the confides of one story.
With performances as committed as this combined with the extreme content ‘Suspiria’ quickly becomes a horror of epic proportions. There’s no denying that it will be too much for a lot of audiences with its horror pushing cinematic boundaries at every turn, but for this its technical achievements should be applauded. Horror aside the film boasts a gripping narrative, albeit one which has issues with its bookends but nonetheless still making ‘Suspiria’ feel like an unmistakable milestone of modern horror.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
Question: What horror film would you like to see be remade?
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