Suspiria – USA, 2018

‘Give your soul to the dance’

Suspiria is a 2018 American supernatural horror film directed by Italian filmmaker and co-producer Luca Guadagnino from a screenplay by David Kajganich (The Terror TV series). The Amazon Studios production stars Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, and Mia Goth. Jessica Harper makes a cameo appearance. Suspiria is a Latin word meaning “sighs.”

The film was released in New York and Los Angeles on October 26th before expanding nationwide on November 2nd and in the UK on November 16th.

Susie Bannion, a young American woman, travels to the prestigious Markos Tanz dance company in Berlin in the year 1977. She arrives just as one of the company’s members, Patricia, has disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

As Susie makes extraordinary progress under the guidance of Madame Blanc, the company’s revolutionary artistic director, she befriends another dancer, Sara, who shares her suspicions that the matrons, and the company itself, may be harboring a dark and menacing secret…

Suspiria is a remake of the 1977 Italian film directed by Dario Argento from a script co-written with Daria Nicolodi.  Screenwriter David Kajganich has told the L.A. Times  “I’m not a fan of the original Suspiria, to be honest. I’m a fan of it as an art piece, but as a narrative, it makes almost no sense.”

Thom Yorke of British rock band Radiohead composed the film’s soundtrack score.

Reviews:

“For as artful and gorgeous as most of the film is, some of the more horrific moments feel like a step back in terms of camera work and vfx. Even still, the haunting atmosphere and the teasing mysteries of the Satanic depths of this coven casts a hypnotic spell that keeps you engrossed throughout. Suspiria succeeds as an artistic experience, but from a narrative standpoint, it’s a bit of a mess.” Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

“Even bearing a bevy of imperfections, Suspiria fires on numerous frequencies more meaningful than the ones that only flicker. Powerful performances, bountiful production design, and engrossing fiction count among elements magnetizing audience eyes.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“Make no mistake, Suspiria (2018) is a horrific, hypnotic, and sometimes gruesomely perverse experience, but regardless of how you end up feeling about Guadagnino’s bold new direction, I guarantee it’s a film you won’t soon forget.” Heather Wixson, Daily Dead

“Guadagnino has stripped down the original to its springs and reupholstered it into something utterly distinct from – and I believe superior to – Argento’s visually iconic (but, let’s be honest, otherwise slightly precarious) original. Suspiria draws a complex, provocative line through faith, politics, dance and, yes, witchcraft…” Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph

“There’s one tremendous sequence where Susie dances furiously while, in another room, her every motion mangles the body of her predecessor in the role — but mostly the film drags: drably shot, over-long, covenish in a damaging way — and weighed down by the decision to set it in Berlin in 1977, the year of the original Suspiria, in an unsuccessful attempt to align it with Baader-Meinhof and Red Army Faction terrorism.” David Sexton, Evening Standard

” …this is a weirdly passionless film. The spark of pure diabolical craziness of Argento has gone, together with his brash streak of black comedy, and in its place is something determinedly upscale and uppermiddlebrow, with indigestible new layers of historical meaning added. The narrative focus is muddled and split…” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“You leave feeling more raggedly disarranged than frightened; Guadagnino seems more concerned with studying the motions and aesthetics of screen violence in exquisite slow motion than with startling or grossing out the viewer. Suspiria serves its audience a buffet of atmospherically grotesque sights and invites us mainly to feast on their beauty.” Guy Lodge, The Guardian

” …it begets the question of whether the slender thread of story about a coven of witches operating out of a famed Berlin dance academy can withstand all the narrative detail, social context and cumbersome subplots heaped onto it. It’s all quite aesthetically striking and yet the new Suspiria remains distancing, often borderline inert, not to mention only marginally more coherent than the original version, which showed as little sustained attention to narrative drive as it did to nuanced performance.” David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“As grim and severe as Argento’s film was ecstatic and harlequin, this Suspiria offers a richer, more explicit interpretation of that old nightmare; it digs up the latent anxieties of that story like someone picking at a scab and watching with a queasy mix of horror and delight as the pus seeps out and makes everything literal. Guadagnino’s Suspiria eschews the scary for the unnerving. It’s more gross than it is creepy, and more elegiac than it is gross.” David Ehlrich, IndieWire

“I don’t know whether to hail 2018’s Suspiria as a new masterpiece, or mourn for the artistic flare that bled from every pore of 1970s cinema. It’s certainly sad that so much of today’s money-making cinema rests on the laurels of past successes. But this movie is a smash-hit example of how you can create new flames from the ashes of a classic. Guadagnino has also done a great job of not letting horror become too literal, but it has to be said that it feels like some of the brightness of the artistry that used to exist seems to have been lost.” Thomas Humphrey, Screen Anarchy

” …this new Suspiria is bland, grisly, boring and silly. There is nothing poetic or erotic about it […] It could all be OK, maybe, if Guadagnino, cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom and production designer Inbal Weinberg had chosen a more vibrant color palette: While it’s their right to rethink Argento’s vision as they like, does anyone really want to see a beige Suspiria?”By Stephanie Zacharek, Time

“Traditional horror fans won’t be pleased: Almost transgressively, Guadagnino has deprioritized the shocks, even the fear. But in their place, he’s pumped up the exoticism and crafted a movie you can get lost in, which is the ultimate tribute. It’s only hours afterward that Guadagnino’s film will cohere for you and yield its buried treasures: the bonds of secret sorority, the strength of a line of dancers moving like a single organism…” Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out USA

“Suspiria has the virtues, but also the limits, of a lavishly cerebral high-end horror film. It holds your attention, and creeps you out at times, but it’s not scary, and it’s not really — dare I say it? — fun. By the time it drags itself to the finish line, you may think, ‘Okay, now we know what ‘Suspiria’ looks like as an art film. Can we please go back to when it was just a garishly flamboyant piece of bat-house trash?'” Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“I wish a woman had been empowered and/or inspired to take a crack at Dario Argento’s iconic but deeply flawed witch tale. But I love Luca Guadagnino’s grotesque, political, radically feminine (feminist? We’ll get to that later) interpretation, and it’s not at all accurate to say that I wish the job had gone to another filmmaker. Suspiria is a gorgeous, hideous, uncompromising film…” Emily Yoshida, Vulture

 

Production:

Amazon Studios financed the production when they acquired the worldwide distribution rights and. It was co-produced by Frenesy Film Company, Mythology Entertainment, First Sun Films, and Memo Films. The co-producers are Luca Guadagnino, Brad Fischer, Kajganich, Francesco Melzi d’Eril, Marco Morabito, Gabriele Moratti, William Sherak, and Silvia Venturini Fendi.

On 5 June 2018, Andrew Jara posted a fan-made trailer for the new Suspiria but with Goblin’s original soundtrack music.

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