Disclaimer: I have seen Dario Aregento’s original film, so keep that in mind when reading my review. With all the remakes, reboots, re-dos…what have you, it’s honestly starting to get tiring. It’s tiring with all these different reactions from people that have never studied film, or haven’t seen the originals to these, and then coming out of the theater proclaiming, “It’s the best fucking original thing they have ever seen.” And then you chime into the conversation and ask them if they’ve seen one of the other three versions of the film (if you don’t know by now I’m talking about the overrated A Star Is Born, I can’t help you), they are like, “holy shit, this is a remake?” And then they shrug it off. A Star Is Born may be a little different with the songs and music but it is beat by beat the exact same movie has the other three versions. If you still like it even though you’ve seen maybe one or all of the other versions, then congrats, but don’t say it’s original.
The point is, this new SUSPIRIA, I’m going to give a good recommendation, because it actually tries to do something different with the material. It is not the same, beat for beat, of the original. Especially the third act. The third act is likely to make or break you, kind of like earlier this year’s Annihilation, but we’ll get to the third act in a bit and what I thought of it. But this version of Suspiria was new, bold, and unpredictable. There are some really, really great scenes in this, and some of them you will hauntingly never forget. The scene where we really get to see what happens with the first victim in the film where she can’t/refuses to play the part of the ballet protagonist. Extravagantly fantastic and gruesome and scary.
Sort of got ahead of myself, with some of you reading this not even realizing this is a remake and not knowing what it is about. Basically, and I guess *minor spoilers* on this, it’s about a coven of witches that recruit young women with this famous prestigious ballet dance studio. *end of spoilers* That is all I’m going to say because the less you know going into it, the better. But do me a favor and watch the fantastic original before you watch this. It is a very nice companion piece without you having felt like you watched the same thing for 4 hours. Oh, by the way, this movie is wayyy longer than the original. The original I believe is an hour and 40 minutes long, this one was two and a half hours.
Which is where I’m going to get into the problems with this movie that make me exclaim that the original is way better, however, please don’t take my word for it, because some people (especially some famous horror “officionados” have said this is better. So if you are a true and deep fan of the original, please go see this, you will at least appreciate it for what it is trying to do. Like I do. Yes, the movie is too long, there are scenes I can think of now they could’ve completely trimmed out and made a much tighter film. Tilda Swinton plays three parts in this movie, she plays Madame Blanc, one of the head ballet/witch instructors, and she plays the male psychologist that is looking into the disappearance of one of the students there, who is played by Chloe Grace Moretz (who is barely in the film). She also has a third role as well, but I’m not going to reveal who that is, suffice to say you’ll know it when you see it. Tilda Swinton is amazing as the head ballet character, and really god damn awesomely creepy in the secret role, but as the male psychologist, not so much. In fact every time this Dr. Josef Klemperer came out screen, it completely took me out of the movie. The make up effects on her to play him look awful and she couldn’t get her voice deep enough for me to accept this character as male and as a real person. Huge problem as this character has a shit load of screen time and one of the main plots in the film.
Also, the third act, which is bat shit crazy, and which might make or break you, is a little unfocused direction and camera work wise. The ending, writing and story wise, completely works for me. The way it was shot almost ruins it. There are important character arcs that are wrapped up in this finale, and the camera is so far away at times, especially with Mia Goth’s/Sara’s arc, that the great acting that we have seen on screen thus far through, the camera work completely tumbles and doesn’t make the landing stick. Instead of close ups, the camera is far enough to make the viewer see what is going on around the main characters, but we already have seen what is going on that if the film took 20 seconds and did some close ups, the ending would’ve been masterful. I know I went to film school and ended up becoming an accountant of sorts and never really made a film, but even I know that the emotional impact of your ending is important, and sometimes that means some close up shots. But everything is at a distance so you can see the whole room, and to me, it wasn’t the right decision.
And the editing in some parts is a little wonky, but it might’ve been deliberate so ignore me as I’m just being nit picky at this point. Everything else is solid. Dakota Johnson here tries to be more than Mrs. Christian Grey, and it completely works. Tilda Swinton is good in the other two roles I mentioned above even though I didn’t buy her male role at all. The real MVP is Mia Goth, who was in those Lars Von Trier Nymphomanic films and the recent A Cure For Wellness. She knocks it out of the park as Sara, a student who is at first delusional as to what is happening at the ballet school but soon finds that one layer to peel back that reveals the darkness underneath. Her performance is completely convincing, but her arc is sort of ruined in that third act I just talked about. The point of view switches several times from Johnson to her and there is a good reason for that which I won’t spoil here. But I thought the switching of the point of views made the impact of a huge reveal that much more juicy.
The film was directed by Luca Guadaginino, the guy that just got all the praise last year for Call Me By Your Name, and he does a great job here. His vision is definitely different from Argento’s original, as Argento went full colorful, strikingly bright horror, Luca’s vision is bleak and monotone. But each works in it’s own way. So I will definitely recommend this for two kinds of people. Those that have seen the original, and those that are into artsy fartsy horror films. This is the vein of The Witch or It Comes At Night or Hereditary than it does mainstream horror. If you are too into mainstream horror, stay far away from this. But if you really can appreciate film as art, and recognizes it when it is done pretty decently, and appreciate when a remakes does a complete 180 from the original, then see this new Suspiria when you have the time.