Suspiria gracefully dances atop the bloody supernatural roots that inspired it. Now, I've seen some visually shocking films that have mentally scarred me. And then I've seen some films that have physically distressed me with its content, numbing my ability to speak whilst my jaw hits the floor. This remake of Argento's classic is both. What. The. Actual. Hell. Did I just watch? Having yet to see the original, I've heard it would be unfair to compare due to the vast amount of changes. Still, what a film! Not only do I need time to fully realise all the themes, but another five viewings atleast. A psychotherapist becomes embroiled with a dance academy that is controlled by a coven of witches, where a new student is slowly becoming the lead choreographer's protégée. After sleeping on this, I concluded that two themes were prominent throughout the intense tribal-like dance segments. The essence of falsifying motherhood was strong, particularly as the witches act motherly towards their students, only to then harness their power. The kinship between Madame Blanc and Susie almost felt real, with the former bonding very closely and gradually becoming protective of her. Them the psychotherapist's perspective conveyed national guilt, how witnessing the atrocities of the holocaust and not acting upon it represented shame for the country. The constant flashes of historical incidents caused by the Red Army Faction assist in personifying the violence that the coven utilise against the students. I also admired the link between spiritualism and the art of dance, propelling the idea that the physical activity is one that connects the body with one's soul. Instinctively, Suspiria is a contemporary arthouse horror, and its contemporaneous nature is imitated through the precise choreography in the dances, especially 'Volk' which is best described as staccato. The infliction of violence that occurs simultaneously conveys the hardship and effort that goes into these routines. Contorted bodies with bones snapping and jaws breaking is viscerally shocking, but strangely hypnotic at the same time.
In fact, the whole film is an entrancing journey and that's thanks to Guadagnino's direction. It never feels like a remake, but more "paying homage" to a classic. It's grounded in the roots that made the original such a harrowing experience, yet injected with modern flavourings. The imitation of Argento's directing style, particularly panning and zooming simultaneously, resulted in a film that felt like it was from the 70s. Guadagnino was inspired, and that shows through the precise camera movement that frequently left me speechless. The cast embodied the physicality of the dance academy, and the emotional turmoil when certain discoveries were made. Goth was exceptional and stood out amongst her peers. Johnson was decent, although nothing extraordinary. But Swinton and her three performances were outstanding. Never needing to overact, never needing to raise her voice. She's just naturally commanding. Ominous, and yet captivating. It also highlights the perfect work of Coulier's makeup artistry, having fictitiously created an actor to play the psychotherapist. The runtime is quite extensive, and the narrative structure of separate acts does segregate the flow of the story. Pacing is sometimes inconsistent, particularly after an intense scene. However, it's act six that really tests your mentality. My eyes were bleeding. My jaw was on the floor. My senses were infiltrated. I collapsed. I died. Resurrection. I'm back. Honestly, I couldn't possibly describe the sheer absurdity that ensued. It was the stuff of nightmares. I was not physically prepared for it, it came out of nowhere and, as nightmarish as it was, unfortunately highlights the disjointed pacing. Yorke's score was often mesmerising, until vocals were introduced in certain songs that were unnecessary and distracting. Alas, Suspiria is quite the behemoth. I may never understand all of the intricacies that are beautifully displayed, but one thing is for sure. It's absolutely divisive, and deserves your attention.