Critic Consensus: Suspiria attacks heady themes with garish vigor, offering a viewing experience that's daringly confrontational - and definitely not for everyone.
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Critic Reviews for Suspiria
Ambitious, grandiose, occasionally compelling but far more often irritating and laughable.
The Argento is a marvel of style-as-subject; Guadagnino subjects audiences to second-hand shocks.
The filmmakers' insatiable curiosity and grandiose sense of spectacle keeps Suspiria from becoming half as annoying as it should be.
Guadagnino is so intent on fulfilling his vision he doesn't seem to have room for any perspective besides his own, leaving the women in his narrative underserved in spite of his incredibly skilled efforts.
Audience Reviews for Suspiria
AUTUER! AUTEUR! - My Review of SUSPIRIA (4 Stars) Whoever said the auteur theory is dead hasn't been paying attention lately. With films like ROMA, MOTHER!, and now SUSPIRIA, directed by Luca Guadagnino (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, A BIGGER SPLASH) and written by David Kajganich (THE TERROR), handily demonstrating that even in the current state of cookie cutter cinema, a lucky few filmmakers get to do whatever the fuck they want. There's no other way to explain this absolutely bonkers, not for everyone, ever so loosely-based and ever so singular remake of Dario Argento's 1977 horror classic. At over 2 1/2 hours, SUSPIRIA over indulges for sure, but with such visionary, visceral work on display, when I wasn't cringing in disgust, I found myself chuckling with glee. Set in a divided 1970s Berlin, SUSPIRIA opens with a distraught young woman named Patricia (an unnerving Chloë Grace Moretz) seeking the help of her therapist, Dr. Klemperer (Tilda Swinton, magnificent in a triple role tour de force). Mumbling incoherently, she disappears from the West Berlin Markos Dance Academy, leaving a vacancy. Enter Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson), the daughter of Mennonites, who leaves her protective Ohio environment for a chance at a spot in the company led by the enigmatic Madame Blanc (Swinton again). Susie's waifish innocence contrasts greatly with the all-female troupe and Blanc's well-worn, blowsy support staff, yet one audition later and suddenly she finds herself named the "It Girl", capturing Blanc's attention and the lead in their next performance. Johnson's role is largely visual with only spare amounts of dialogue, but she's perfect. Like her mother, there's no hiding her gentle, vulnerable qualities, and it's what makes her a great movie star. You just want her to naively move across the ocean and make a splash. Clearly, though, something is amiss, when this dance school turns out to contain a coven of witches. We hear the whisperings right away, but Susie seems oblivious or perhaps in denial. She just wants to dance goddammit! When she performs a solo on the troupe's signature piece, however, a dancer trapped on the floor below her, experiences bone-crunching, contorted torture with every one of Susie's spins, leaps, or reaches. Special kudos to the sound mix and the haunting score by Radiohead's Thom Yorke, who is finally writing melodies again! [Radiohead fans, don't come for me!] Guadagnino, so skilled in his past work at evoking sights, sounds, smells, and texture in his masterful imagery, brings a profound sense of dread to the horror genre with a film with no real jump scares or traditional horror elements. Sure, it devolves into a veritable blood bath late in the film (told in 6 chapters and an epilogue), but SUSPIRIA is more interested in the horror of male guilt and of female rage. It overstuffs its messaging with references to the Holocaust, the Cold War, to the 1970s Lufthansa Hostage Crisis, and the Red Army Faction bombings, but the through line remains. Women will no longer remain silent in this world as they course correct from generations of humiliation and sublimation. SUSPIRIA is the ultimate #metoo film with the message of, "Join us or die, and men, we're gonna grab you by the dick for a change." SUSPIRIA, thanks to Guadagnino's incredible skills as a director, feels original, despite at times feeling like the bastard child of the "Satan's Alley" sequence from STAYING ALIVE and ROSEMARY'S BABY with a dollop of THE NEON DEMON thrown in for good measure. Swinton's Madame Blanc exudes such sweet, gentle empathy even when in charge of bloody murders. It's female empowerment revenge with a measure of compassion for those she opposes. Yes, this film even has empathy for men, especially for Dr. Klemperer, who has a guilty past with a woman who provides a wonderful surprise of a cameo. Swinton's performance as Klemperer remains key to the surprising amount of kindness this film has to offer. You don't expect that out of a very bloody, over-the-top horror film, but SUSPIRIA, as nutty as it is, makes room for it. Despite a couple of minor roles played by men, every major part goes to a woman. I wondered why it wasn't also directed by a woman, but Guadagnino, a gay man, doesn't have the same male gaze as some of his straight counterparts, and besides, I just want to follow his voice as a filmmaker wherever it takes him. Many will absolutely hate the movie. If you hated EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC but applauded its audacity, you may have the same feelings for SUSPIRIA. On the surface, it's monumentally silly and so so long, but it's a story told by a filmmaker brimming with passion and creativity. Guadagnino chooses to stage dialogue scenes where the actors speak to each other in voiceover. One of the biggest dramatic moments contains no dialogue at all, as Swinton and Johnson stare each other down across a crowded restaurant table. There are plenty of flash cut montages, body horror, stabbings, and oceans of blood, but this film maintains the real horrors are our collective pasts. Let women rule the world, the film seems to be saying, but make no mistake. There will be blood. Lots and lots of blood.
Bares only a slight resemblance to the original, but that's because Guadagnino found more things to explore, specifically how national guilt manifests itself in individuals.. A little overlong perhaps, but by the time that truly bonkers finale roles around I found myself invested in the madness of it all.
The German Autumn, some of the defining several months of Cold War Europe, occurred by no small coincidence during the initial release of Dario Argento's stylish slash-terpiece, the original Suspiria. But the violence of the outside world was of no consequence or concern to Argento's gory film world, wrapped up in the escapism and sensationalism of genre and formalism rather than sociopolitical subtexts and philosophical pedantry. It was either Jean-Luc Godard or Brian de Palma (or both) who once said in an interview "If you show the audience a gun, they wonder when you're going to shoot it. If you show them a woman, when will you undress it?" This regressive approach to horror was of primary aesthetic concern amidst the Giallo conventions that Argento helped construct, define and deconstruct, culminating in his 1977 magnum opus. In stark contrast now stands Luca Guadagnino's remake to redactively set that story into its pertinent socio-political context, replacing the eye-popping color and lights of Argento's fantasy dance academy with the overcast, graffitied Berlin of Rainier Werner Fassbinder and Christiane F.. Instead of the theme of innocence lost in sexual maturity, the splintered, schizophrenic collapse and rebirth of post-WWII German culture looms as a monolith as vast as the Berlin Wall itself, hulking over this coven of dancing witches and providing a much different context to the characters and settings Susie Bannion (here played by Dakota Johnson) encounters. On one hand, there was an entire generation that still hadn't come to terms with being complicit in the greatest human atrocity in modern times, and on the other there was the disaffected youth witnessing the leaders of the Western world, arbiters of so-called justice hypocritically perpetrating injustice after Vietnam and the Israeli-Palestine conflict. There is definitely a dialogue between this bygone era of political tumult and the West's current fascination with fascism. Paramount to this dialogue is the film's exploration of power structures, namely that in the past many forms of empowerment have relied on the subjugation and suffering of an other. As we come to find, even the self-sustained matriarchy of the dance academy feeds off of the talents and vigor of its students to sustain the old ways of its matrons. The corruptive nature of power can atrophy even the noblest of ideals (not saying Satanic witch cults are noble, but bear with me), and so many social movements are defined by the violence from their inception to their upheaval. Who could have foreseen Trump and Bolsanaro? The Baader-Meinhof group called out those men's predecessors with bullets and bombs before even they were consumed by the very violence they perpetrated. Susie asks "Why does everyone assume that the worst is already over with?", and I have no doubt we have yet to see the worst the modern world has to offer. But the revolutionary act of questioning our power structures while accepting our role in their creation is the best way to make *heads explode* if we are to expect any progressive improvement in our dystopian malaise. With all that being said, I much prefer the original. Guadagnino's take is more food for thought, there are some wonderful dance sequences, body horror shots, and the climax is about as "Satanic witch cult" as you could ever ask for, but about 70% of the movie is really drab looking and borderline plodding. I get that it's a "dark" movie with "dark" subject matter, but I was surprised to see the director ditch his summery eye for color for the perpetually rainy pall and atmosphere. As for Johnson, it's just straight up bizarre hearing the same actress who said, "It's boobs in boob land" earlier this year in Fifty Shades Freed spar with Tilda m-er f-ing Swinton about the abstract theoretical underpinnings of contemporary dance. Swinton herself is great as Madame Blanc, but I'm skeptical of the decision to have her cosplay as the old dude from Argento's Inferno. It's frustrating and distracting most of the time. Finally, Thom Yorke's soundtrack doesn't hold a candle to the frenetic magic of Goblin. Still, even with its shortcomings, Suspiria manages to be one of the best movies of the year in terms of thematic richness and basic craft, and I'm definite that it will be even more rewarding upon rewatch.
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