Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) leaves her small Ohio farm to travel to a dance academy in Berlin in 1977. Run by Madam Blanc, (Tilda Swinton) Susie falls into the roll of lead dancer after a series of strange events that take a few other girls out of the picture. But the teachers are planning something special for Susie.
I'm a huge fan of the original Suspiria. It's beautiful in its colorful, campy glory. I knew going in this was going to be completely different. Gone are the bright colors and the soundtrack that's almost a character in itself. In are greys and neutral tones, and no memorable score until one pivotal scene. I admire what director Luca Guadagnino did here. Instead of making a full on remake, he took the bare bones of the story (Susie goes to Berlin to dance, and it's run by witches) and imagines something completely different.
Only it's kind of awful.
Unlike the original - which I'll stop comparing it with after this one point because they're different enough - this film is told from the perspective of the witches instead of the students. Which is jarring because we see these teachers acting creepy as fuck all the time and none of the dancers acknowledge it. Because of this, a lot of the suspense in finding out their motives is removed because they tell us slowly throughout. From the very first title card that appears, telling us there is six acts and an epilogue. You know you're going to be here a while. This film clocks in at a heft two hours and thirty two minutes and easily a good forty of them should've been cut.
Dakota Johnson plays her role almost exactly as she did in Luca's previous film, A Bigger Splash. Which means she pauses before every line and generally acts as if she's in a trance. Mia Goth, who plays another dancer Sara acts circles around her and unlike Susie, Sara actually has a character arc. Susie has no personality and we get no insight to her thoughts making her actions towards the end of the film a massive head scratcher. Tilda Swinton also plays two other characters aside from Madam Blanc under a ton of make up for no reason other than Luca is a Tilda stan. Because of this you're kind of expecting things to be tied together differently, because it's obvious it's Tilda but nope. No purpose.
The film does do a good job when it comes to the dance numbers and it has a couple of gruesome scenes. I was a bit surprised that they didn't try to redo any of the iconic deaths from the original. No falling glass or razor wire here. And even though it doesn't have a bright color palette, it does look beautiful in its own way. And it is interesting at first, don't get me wrong. This film doesn't start boring. It's captivating, in fact.
Ultimately, Suspiria is bogged down by its unnecessary run time and all the things it wanted to say but couldn't do so in a concise manner. It's art house for the sake of art house. Candice mentioned in a great Indie Wire piece that this film "holds you hostage because it can" That is exactly how I felt.
Memorable Quote: "That's the kind of thing Patricia would say." - Sara (Mia Goth)