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Review: ‘Suspiria’ is One of the Most Skilfully Made and Artistically Rich Horror Films of 2018

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Review: 'Suspiria' is One of the Most Skilfully Made and Artistically Rich Horror Films of 2018

Comparing this reimaging to Dario Argento’s classic original is pretty much redundant. They are two completely different beasts. Argento’s work is visually stunning, with his aesthetic taking emphasis over story, to the point where some scenes don’t make any sense.

Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 version has none of that bright neon flair. Instead the colour is muted, reflecting a grim post-war Germany. Guadagnino is more concerned with subtext. National guilt, memory and motherhood are important themes. However, his overall message is unclear, obscured in a haze of pretentious but mesmerising sequences.

Suspiria 2018 Image 2

This is less a blood drenched horror film and more a stylish work of art. Like most good remakes it would probably get more love if it had its own unique title. It retains the narrative skeleton of Argento’s version.

Susie (Dakota Johnson) is accepted into a dance school that contains a coven of witches, headed by the otherworldly Tilda Swinton. It becomes clear that the staff have nefarious plans for her.

Swinton is the stand out actor in this film. During production she donned heavy prosthetics to play a secondary male character in secret. The makeup and her performance are so convincing that I only learned it was her after researching the cast.

Suspiria 2018 Image 1

Suspiria is similar to Mandy in that both take the audience on a bizarre journey. They just have to sit back and enjoy the ride without focusing too much on the story. The film is certainly hypnotic and this helps viewers get through the bloated running time.

This is not to say that Suspiria lacks horror. There is plenty of gruesome and nightmarish imagery throughout. The sound design is also creepy, particular the use of breathing and chanting.

During her first lesson Susie volunteers to perform the lead role in an elaborate routine. As she rhythmically moves her body she somehow unleashes a power that brutally mangles another student. This scene will have viewers squirming in their seats.

The tone ranges from subdued foreboding to grotesque body horror. However, despite the dangerous situation Susie finds herself in there is not enough tension to keep us involved.

Suspiria 2018 Image 3

There are moments where we learn of the historical context surrounding the characters. Terrorists are constantly on the news. At one point Tilda Swinton ponders how people always believe the worst is in the past, reminding us that our own modern world has not improved much. This interesting message feels out of place and does not gel with the main narrative. At times it feels like Guadagnino has plenty of ideas but cannot marry them together into one film.

Despite this, Suspiria is one of the most skilfully made and artistically rich horror films of 2018. The performances burst with sexual energy and wicked intent. It is strange, moving and at times unnerving.

All aspects of production are expertly done and there are enough sickening scenes to satisfy fans of the genre. However, viewers need to go into it with an open mind and resist the urge to compare it to Argento’s original.

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