Watching Luca Guadagnino’s take on the 1977 Italian horror classic Suspiria is like witnessing a heathenistic, satanic blood ritual you have no business watching and when it is done, it’s going to take a while to shake off, beauty, trauma and all.
The acclaimed director of the Oscar-winning Call Me By Your Name, pays homage to Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi’s nightmarish tale of a grieving psychotherapist and an American dancer enrapt in the company of a prominent German dance troupe, where every move that is made is ultimately an extension of devilish enchantment, in other words, witchcraft. Beauty can only be found on the surface of this company’s walls and floors and dance studios, where it’s interior beyond and beneath can only be described as black and sinister as the searing fires of hell.
Anyone who says that this movie is enjoyable to watch, is lying; that is to say that if you can stick it out to the end, which will require a strong stomach. This is an upheaval cinematic festival of cringing and gore, masked by beautiful, symmetrical motions and jarring storytelling from screenwriter David Kajganich. I can imagine that Guadagnino wanted to honor the horrors the original Suspiria but this is torture to watch; it’s a movie told in six parts with an epilogue and each part just drags the viewer deeper and deeper into horrifying and skin-crawling madness.
I reiterate, this isn’t a movie you to see to enjoy. This is a movie you go to experience and the experience is one that will stay with you long after the lights go up! Guadaganino certainly made a chaotic movie that mirrors the appearance of the studio in the film; precise, riveting and captivating on the exterior but the inside is chaotic, depraved and sickening.
The cast certainly put in the work to add to the overall shock-value of Suspiria. Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton-who portrays three characters, one of which is an elderly man-, Chloë Grace Moretz, Doris Hick, Malgorzata Bela, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler, Alek Wek, Vanda Capriolo, Elena Fokina; I’m pretty sure that the cast is all or predominantly female and all of them are strong, menacing performers, whether their role is to dance, create death, descend into dark insanity or all simultaneously.
Radiohead front-man Thom Yorke provides the chilling music of Suspiria, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s cinematography is piercing, Walter Fasano’s editing is jolting, Inbal Weinberg’s production design, Merlin Ortner and Monica Sallustio’s art direction and Christin Busse and Merissa Lombardo’s set decoration is precise, menacing and impactful, Giulia Piersanti’s costumes were striking; the technical acumen of Suspiria was meant to provoke and horrify and it succeeded.
Final thoughts: if you are 50-50 on deciding whether to see Suspiria, maybe it’s better if you stayed away because this movie is NOT for the weak willed or faint of spirit, it requires a lot of conviction stay to the end, it is a LOT to digest as it goes on and if you happen to be brave enough to elect to see it, I hope you are ready to embark on a paralyzing experience and have time to recover from it.