Dan's Review: "Suspiria" a horror oddity, not for everyone
Nov 01, 2018 05:38PM
By Dan Metcalf
Dakota Johnson in Suspiria - © 2018 Amazon Studios.
Suspiria (Amazon Studios)
Rated R for disturbing content involving ritualistic violence, bloody images, and graphic nudity, and for some language including sexual references.
Starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton ("Lutz Ebersdorf"), Mia Goth, Angela Winkle, Ingrid Caven, Elena Fokina, Sylvie Testud, Renée Soutendijk, Christine LeBoutte, Fabrizia Sacchi, Małgosia Bela, Jessica Harper, Chloë Grace Moretz, Alek Wek, Vanda Capriolo, Olivia Ancona, Brigitte Cuvelier.
Written by David Kajganich, based on the film "Suspiria" (1977) by Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi.
Directed by Luca Guadagnino.
I’m not a big fan of horror movies. Never have been, never will be. There is no “cool” factor for me in seeing buckets of blood splattered across any screen, and it gives me no thrill to discover new ways for humans to be slaughtered, mangled or reanimated. To be sure, Suspiria (based on Dario Argento’s 1977 film of the same name) is indeed a horror film, albeit more of the “arthouse” variety.
Set in 1977, Dakota Johnson plays Susie, the daughter of Ohio Mennonites who is accepted into an exclusive modern dance company based in Berlin. Upon her arrival, she soon discovers several strange occurrences, including the disappearance of another young dancer named Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz). The dance academy is run by several odd/overbearing women and headed by Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). As she joins the other girls, Susie’s talents attract Blanc, who immediately installs her as the lead in the next big performance. During her first rehearsal, Susie becomes possessed of a strange power that has a direct effect on another dancer named Olga (Elena Fokina) who is trying to leave the studio but is trapped inside a mirrored room. As Susie convulses in dance, her movements begin to mutilate Olga, until her body is deformed into a ball. The ladies use meat hooks to drag Olga away to a place unknown. Meanwhile a psychologist named Klemperer (also played by Swinton, under the name “Lutz Ebsdorf”) begins to investigate his patient Patricia’s disappearance. Susie’s closest new friend in the academy Sara (Mia Goth) also begins to ask questions, leading her to terrible danger. As the dance performance draws near, the truth about the ladies who run the academy becomes clearer, along with their dark past and connection to witchcraft.
Suspiria is a mixed bag of horror, offering a variety of artistic themes and narratives. I should point out that when it comes to the aforementioned “buckets o’ blood,” Suspiria has plenty to go around, especially in the film’s climactic scene involving all the dancers – and one special lady from the past with a few scores to settle. Suffice to say there are a lot of body parts and a major mess to clean up.
If you’re into the jump scares, creepy monsters, possessive demons and homicidal maniacs of the Wes Craven/John Carpenter variety, Suspiria is not for you. This is a movie with a European art film motif, a lot of modern art, weird imagery, and a slow burn to reach any kind of plot closure. It isn’t as pretentious as other films that push the edges of tradition, offering a coherent story arc – even if it takes a full two and a half hours to get there. If you like that sort of thing, Suspiria is for you. If you’d rather not, you aren’t missing out on much.