For my review of the original, click the following link: SUSPIRIA (1977)
Ho man, am I cautious about this one. I mean, I heard such good things about the original, but I gotta say, I didn’t like it that much. Way too loud, annoying, and kind of boring. Only the final ten or so minutes really saved the movie, but that’s not exactly saying much.
The story looks like it’s about ballet dancers and… weird shit happens. I don’t know, the trailer is so underwhelming that I still can’t remember it.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Dakota Johnson (EL ROYALE , FIFTY SHADES 2 , HOW TO BE SINGLE , BLACK MASS , and the upcoming THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON ), Tilda Swinton (ISLE OF DOGS , DOCTOR STRANGE , TRAINWRECK , Chronicles of Narnia THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE , PRINCE CASPIAN , and THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER , and upcoming films THE SOUVENIR  and THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD ), Chloë Grace Moretz (THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST , 5TH WAVE , HUGO , and the upcoming THE ADDAMS FAMILY ), and Mia Goth (A CURE FOR WELLNESS , EVEREST , and the upcoming HIGH LIFE ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Luca Guadagnino, known for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017) and A BIGGER SPLASH (2016). Penning the screenplay is David Kajganich, known for A BIGGER SPLASH, and the upcoming PET SEMATARY (2019). Composing the score is Thom Yorke, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. The cinematographer is Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, known for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. Finally, the editor is Walter Fasano, known for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME and A BIGGER SPLASH.
Overall, I can’t say how good this will be, as I wasn’t exactly a fan of the original film. With that said, I do enjoy some of the cast, so I can’t imagine this being worse than the original. Actually, I can easily see how this could be worse, but I’m… hopeful.
This is my honest opinion of: SUSPIRIA
Set in Germany, circa 1977. Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) is a new, but talented American dancer for the Markos Dance Company, and her timing couldn’t be better as one of the more talented dancers, Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz), left the company under mysterious circumstances. Susie’s integration is met with warm welcomes and even befriends the equally talented Sara (Mia Goth). However, unbeknownst to the dancers, the witch teachers are grooming Susie for unknown reasons for the mysterious Mother Markos, who established the company.
Quick story before I get into the review. Feel free to skip if you don’t care. So, I’ve been waiting for two weeks to watch this fuckin’ movie. I waited so long to watch it because in its initial run, it was only playing in the Arclight Cinemas, and I didn’t want to spend eighteen dollars, at one of the more expensive movie theaters in Los Angeles, and wasn’t exactly getting a critical reception like it was the second coming of horror films. Usually the way it works for movies theaters, like the Arclight or Landmark that get movies earlier than others, most of them go mainstream the following week with a limited life span, which I was banking on. However, the following week came and it didn’t show up. I got frustrated. But FINALLY, the movie came out at my local AMC, planned out my day, and started watching it. BUT THEN the Woolsey Fire broke out and me and my family had to evacuate. While it technically hadn’t gotten that far out (I’m aware that I’m being very generalized about the locations and their related distances from each other; bare with me), we had to go leave to a family member’s house an hour away from home. I was half-way through SUSPIRIA by the time I had to leave with my family. It was late at the time. Nothing angers me more than being forced to leave a movie for insert ANY reason. I don’t leave movies, even if I hate them. For the next several days, I’d be squirming in my skin about how I was only an hour away from finishing the movie and couldn’t see it anywhere else without shelling out an arm and a kidney. Eventually, I did end up finishing the movie, but I really want to stress how I hate when life tells me I can’t watch a movie. Life can take many other things away from me. My chances at becoming President? I don’t care. Becoming a billionaire? I don’t care. Being even mildly attractive? Getting used to it. But life does NOT get to tell me that I can’t watch a movie. Fuck you, life!
On with the review itself. While I may not call it a great film, I actually like this one and think it’s a vast improvement over the original. And even as far as Guadagnino’s body of work is concerned, this is far and away his best… or at least, my favorite, of his movies. Oh, and before you ask, “suspiria” is Latin for “sighs.”
One of the first aspects that I appreciated was that this movie was upfront and honest about the supernatural. As in, they don’t build up the witches as some kind of twist, or really try that hard to play it off like maybe this is all psychological. No, the fact that they’re witches is pretty obvious without being silly about it. You know, like bubbling cauldrons and rhyming spells and shit like that. They do have secret meetings, votes, and surprisingly none of it is boring. I mean, it’s being obviously cryptic as we never know a single thing that’s happening in these meetings, but it’s interesting enough to keep you interested in what it’s all going to build up to.
I gotta hand it to Johnson, I think this is the best role of her career. As much as I enjoyed how bad the first two Fifty Shades movies were, she hasn’t had a long line of films that I’ve agreed with, many of them being either underwhelming or awful. The closest thing to a good movie that she’s been a part of is BLACK MASS, but her role was pretty small. With that said, she was great in the movie and was arguably her best acting job. And while she’s still not that great as a powerhouse actress, she clearly gave 110 percent to this performance. As I understand it, she spent the last two years training in ballet specifically for this movie. Her hard work is blasted on screen and it’s damn impressive. Her dancing is powerful, graceful, provocative, entrancing, and I have come to two conclusions. That is already a trained dancer… and that she is most definitely a witch. Since when the fuck do I use words like “provocative” when describing dance? Since when the fuck do I describe dance?? Fuck you, Johnson! Stay out of my head, she-demon! I kid (sort of), but seriously, her hard work is clear and I absolutely recommend this movie for her alone. That’s a sentence I really never thought I’d say, and this movie has Tilda mother fucking Swinton. Tilda mother fucking Swinton is SOMEHOW NOT the best part of this movie. I mean, clearly a better actress, Swinton’s no slouch in this aspect obviously, but she’s not nearly as impressive as Johnson.
Oh, and here’s a topic that has to be discussed, the violence. Apparently, some footage of this movie was played at the 2018 CinemaCon and was said to be so intense that people walked out. My take… yeah, I can see why. Even I was cringing at some of these scenes. I’m not giving a single thing away here, but let’s just say that people get FUCKED UP in this movie. At long last, someone knows how to make a disturbingly violent horror movie. Exactly what I’ve been waiting for.
I even appreciate how they handle Dr. Josef Klemperer (Lutz Ebersdorf). At first, he dismisses Patricia’s mad ravings as… er, well, mad ravings. But as soon as she disappears, he starts to suspect that maybe there’s something to what she was so scared of. Maybe not “witches,” per se, as he admits to the police later on that he doesn’t believe in such things, but it’s a nice touch that he’s haunted and believes aspects of what Patricia was saying.
Yes, the score is a huge improvement. The main theme from the first film doesn’t play at any point, but at least it’s not over-bloated and blaring into my ear-drums, making me question if the God-given ability to HEAR is all that worth it.
<<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ Hey, that subway sign in the corner that said “Suspiria.” Was that foreshadowing? Because I totally called that early one! I didn’t call that Susie was Suspiriorum, but I called that the sign was foreshadowing something. I’m smart and will accept my role as your new messiah. Please, don’t bow, it makes me blush. (NOT SERIOUS!!!) ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
This is more of a “middle of the road” comment now, but the cinematography bounces from being inspired, to downright bizarre. The reason why I’m able to compliment Johnson’s dancing abilities is because both Guadagnino and Mukdeeprom were smart enough to let her talent shine and show it off… sometimes. In once scene showing off the dancing, it’ll be long takes so the audience can have a chance to admire the talent. Entire dance sequences aren’t showcased, obviously, which is a shame because that would have been a truly spectacular show of Johnson’s talent, as well as behind the camera. But for the narrative, there’s usually a reason for it. The takes are long enough to be appreciated, but not edited like a fucking Michael Bay film. However, this isn’t the case for every scene involving dance. For scenes where even longer takes of the dance sequences would have been welcomed, those are the scenes that are editing enormously choppy. I don’t know if this was intentional to create a surreal sense of distortion, but if I’m sitting in my seat simultaneously wishing for the scene and my headache to end, then someone done fucked up. Some scenes have weird “pan overs,” if that makes sense, odd zoom ins, focusing on things that seem rather mundane and inconsequential, it’s almost a wonder how the movie was even capable of shooting beautiful scenes at all. It’s such a give and take in terms of consistent cinematic quality. For every shot that confuses me, there’s a scene that damn near blows me away. Make up your mind, movie!
However, while I will always stand by this movie being superior to the original, this movie does have its far share of flaws.
Usually, I’m a pretty avid fan of Moretz, but her performance in the opening was a little… unjustified in how unhinged it was. I understand that the training in the Academy is rigorous and that a few of the dancers are a tad suspicious of the legends and the validity of their truthfulness, but by the end of the movie, I’m not sure how much Patricia’s insanity was warranted. What gave it all away that she knew the teachers were witches? I suppose one could argue that she was basically Susie before Susie actually showed up, in that she was a promising dancer that unknowingly killed another dancer in the same way that Susie did, but that’s all complete speculation. I don’t think we learned enough about Patricia, or really about the witches in this academy to understand what set her off. Maybe, like Susie, she witnessed a lot of the fucked up shit going on, but none of it really says anything like, “witches!” Just… “what the fuck, bro?!” to which normal people would call the police and let the law take care of shit.
The movie gives way too many characters names. Not that a movie shouldn’t be immersive and levels of detail should always be appreciated, but named characters should feel like they have importance to the story. Here, they really don’t. Like, Miss Griffith (I literally had to Wikipedia search this character), played by Sylvie Testud, there’s a whole lot of focus on her for a good while, but then she commits suicide and the movie progresses just fine, as if nothing happened at all. Maybe it’s implied that she couldn’t take the brutality of the other matrons, but it’s hard to feel for her death when we know literally nothing about her.
I am still tired of seeing Johnson’s ass. Every movie? Every movie, she needs to show off her tits and ass? Is it written in her contract? I have to agree with the critics on one criticism, in that the backdrop of the real historical events of imprisoned war criminals to be released, but that it’s completely unnecessary to the overall narrative. It’s like it was an overly elaborate ruse to explain away Patricia’s absence from the Academy. Why did Susie’s mom (Malgorzata Bela) have the creepy heavy breathing? In the original, that was the haunting breathing of Markos. I mean, I know she’s sick and all, but… it feels like a heavy-handed nod to the original film. The movie’s pace is also on the slower end, especially toward the end. While I didn’t think it ever got boring, it was on that precipice a couple of times. Even the script hits some weird notes. Like when Blanc (Swinton) and Susie are talking about her dancing and Susie says something like, “I imagined it was like fucking.” Then Blanc says, “Fucking a man?” Then Susie says, “No, like… fucking an animal.” Um… excuse you? Girl seriously needs Jesus in her life. Some scenes also just happen for no reason. For example, there’s one where Caroline (Gala Moody) just collapses on the ground and has a violent seizure, which… leads to nothing. She’s still in the movie, she dances, and the movie progresses like it never happened. Um… cool?
<<<SPOILERS>>> [ I think my biggest issues with the movie come at the end. So by this point, the witches are doing their unholy dancing, sacrificing people, and Susie comes walking in, apparently happy to surrender to the will of Helena Markos. However, after the sacrificing, Mother Suspiriorum turns up and starts killing everyone who didn’t vote in her favor. At first, I was confused. I thought Markos was Mother Suspiriorum, as that’s who she was in the original… or am I forgetting every damn thing in that movie too? Anyway, I read online that Markos was actually lying about being Suspiriorum in order to keep her heightened status among the matrons. However, this does very little to clear things up. So what’s with Susie? There is a clear difference between Susie and the real Suspiriorum. Literally, they’re separate beings. Or… were they? Was the monster thing killing everyone just a projection of Susie’s form as Suspiriorum? A standard minion from Hell that did her bidding? Seriously, I have no idea what the hell that was. I think the implication is that Susie is Suspiriorum and she was playing the long game in terms of retaking control of her coven, but still have no idea what that monster was. Still, didn’t hate the ending. Satisfyingly violent. ] <<<SPOILERS CONTINUED>>>
<<<CONTINUE SPOILERS>>> [ Josef is really Swinton in some damn convincing make-up, but she’s credited as Ebersdorf. This translates into something hilarious, doesn’t it? I put this down in the negatives section because I feel like once you know it’s her, you can’t really unsee it. I mean, I always had this weird splinter in the back of my mind that there wasn’t something quite right with Josef’s face, but as soon as I knew… yeah, it almost became distracting. Now I could hear Swinton’s voice, all that spoiled shit. Never learn about movie magic, kids. It ruins the fun. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
<<<SPOILERS>>> [ Another big problem is that when this movie is about to make sense of a problem created by the first movie, it doesn’t end up doing anything with it. In the original, the movie doesn’t make sense why Susie was so important to the coven as she never dances or shows off any particular kind of “specialness,” if you will. In this movie, Susie has raw talent, connects with Blanc, and leaves an impression. So the grooming makes sense, but in the end, I don’t think I truly caught what it was all building up to. Was she being initiated as a witch, only to realize that she was Suspiriorum the whole time? And even this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, as Susie renounces her dying mother back home in Ohio. So… did her mother know that Susie was Suspiriorum? Nothing about this ending makes any God-damned sense. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Overall, because I have such a dislike for the original film, I’m impressed that this movie did so much to make me enjoy it. Yes, it’s a flawed film. Much of the ending doesn’t make sense, and the camerawork and editing could have been polished, among many other problems. With that said, I think where the movie did things well, it was downright great. Johnson’s hard work is the backbone of this film and is worth seeing just for her alone, the supporting cast is great, Swinton and Goth being particular stand-outs, intense violent imagery, and by God is it far more interesting. As a recommendation, yeah, I think horror fans should check this out. I’m sure glad I saw it and may even own it in Blu-Ray when the time comes.
My honest rating for SUSPIRIA: 4/5
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