Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: I’m not a huge fan of Dario Argento’s Suspiria. While I appreciate its place in history and its legendary aesthetic, the content of the film itself does nothing for me–and that’s always bugged me. It’s an awesome concept, but every time I fire up the 1977 classic, I walk away more disappointed than the time before it.
When a remake of the film was announced, I wasn’t overly excited. I’m, admittedly, a pro-reboot kind of guy, but I had no interest in subjecting myself to 90 more minutes of aimless wandering through mysteriously colored corridors. But then a series of events occurred that took me from relative indifference to bonafide excitement. It started with a debut trailer that absolutely floored me. Then David Kajganich, writer of the 2018 reimagining, went on record stating he was “not a fan of the original Suspiria”. Lastly, the final runtime of the film was discovered to be a full hour longer than that of the original. It was clear to me that Kajganich planned to greatly expand upon Argento’s concept, and that director Luca Guadagnino had the chops to make it all work. To my surprise, I was right. It almost feels like a disservice to call the 2018 Suspiria a reboot or a remake. Because, to me, it feels like this is what Suspiria should have been all along.
Dakota Johnson is absolutely fearless as Susie; an American that travels to Berlin to audition for the famous Markos dance company. I’ve witnessed genre fans writing the film off for her inclusion alone; citing the 50 Shades films as cause, but don’t be foolish. Johnson is a professional actress that gets compensated to portray characters–regardless of how “mainstream” those characters may be–and her performance in Guadagnino’s Suspiria could be a career-defining one. The same can be said for Tilda Swinton who portrays not one, but three separate characters to absolute perfection.
I’ve also heard fans and critics alike refer to the two and a half hour runtime as “exhausting” or “boring”. And while I most certainly cannot dispute someone’s personal opinion or taste, I can say that I was not negatively impacted by the additional context and story. There’s a lot happening here, and it almost feels like there’s too little time to fit it all in. As a result, I found my eyes constantly scanning the corners of each scene in an attempt to unravel the mystery that was unfolding before me. Suspiria engaged me in a way that I’ve never experienced in a theater seat, and that has to mean something.
Similarly to the original, Suspiria 2018 forces the audience to earn a payoff in its final act, but it’s not nearly as confusing or hard to follow as some would have you believe. In fact, i found it remarkably coherent up to its shocking and violent conclusion. Do I have questions? Absolutely. But none of my questions impact my overall understanding or enjoyment of the the film. The devil is in the details, as they say. And I’m confident that subsequent watches (there will be several) will unlock the secrets that reside within the Markos Dance Academy.
I’ve always wanted to love Suspiria, but it took Luca Guadagnino and David Kajganich to make that a reality. They’ve created something very special, and I can only hope that the team is allowed to continue expanding upon the groundwork laid here. Suspiria is in theaters right now, and it’s expected to hit Amazon Prime and other digital outlets early next year. I strongly recommend checking this one out in theaters while you can.
‘Suspiria’ Remake Bests Original Film in Every Possible Way [Review]