I was fortunate enough to see Suspiria at the LFF on a cloudy Wednesday. Yes, I had taken the day off work and yes, it was worth it. It’s a gory horror with perfect casting and a beautiful meld of nations, generations of actors and film lore.
At first glance, the thought that Luca Guadagnino, who made Call Me By Your Name, could make such a violent, gruesome and tension-wracked horror film seems entirely incongruous. But of course it isn’t – the colours, the close-ups, the essence of a great story wrapped in immersive scenes and dialogue are all entirely consistent.
Suspiria is an uncomfortable, tension wracked fairy tale. Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) is a young woman who is drawn to a Berlin dance academy, where she has managed to land a blind audition and stuns the teachers with her talent. She quickly becomes to protégé of Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), and these two women circulate each other in an infinity symbol throughout the film, drawing the other characters in to their blood-filled whirlpool. Magic, witches and lore are at the centre of this horror, and the occult brings all the spookiness you can imagine. Johnson is fantastic – she is an actor that shines in this role, having previously worked with Swinton and Guadagnino together in A Bigger Splash. The trust is evident and the actors’ devotion to the movie (particularly Swinton, who plays three supporting roles) is clear and pushes the story forward in to the black unknown.
As a remake, it has its own legs and can support itself well. The script has added new layers which create new avenues to explore, giving the story a modern feel and making sure it can hold its own.
The colours are more muted than the previous, some being held back to be shown in full force in key scenes. Magnificent camerawork by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, the cinematographer, disorient the viewer and pull off incredible shots, still unknown to me just how. The manipulation of spatial rules serve particularly well to show the magic swirling in the air, and the bending of ordinary rules.
The gore is in full force here, as is only appropriate with a movie such as this. This is a fair warning that if you do not enjoy blood and guts, do not see this movie as it is front and centre. I couldn’t avert my eyes for a second during these scenes, however, as the natural body contorted and twisted (both in dance and in injury) served as a reminder of the witches’ magic over the preternatural realm. Also, as this was very much a passion project for Guadagnino (Italian, as well as Dario Argento who made the first Suspiria in 1977), he wasn’t going to skimp on any details.
The acting in this film is superb, supported by an incredible tale that was one of the highlights of the LFF.
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