SUSPIRIA – Rated R – 2 hrs. 32 mins.
DIRECTOR: Luca Gaudagnino
WRITER: David Kajganich
STARRING: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Angela Winkler
Give Your Soul to the Dance
Following his latest cultural phenomenon in last year’s “Call Me By Your Name”, Luca Guadagnino returns with his own interpretation of Dario Argento’s 1977 groundbreaking, original film “Suspiria”. The film opens as the credits inform us we will witness six chapters and an epilogue. A young, stressed woman named Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz) arrives at a psychologist’s home in Berlin, speaking about and suffering from nonsensical delusions. The next chapter begins, and we are introduced to a beautiful, young woman from America named Susie (Dakota Johnson). In Berlin, she is here to audition for Miss Markos and Madame Blanc’s esteemed, world-renown dance academy. Once accepted, she begins to from a friendship with another dancer named Sara (Mia Goth). As they are already rehearsing for their performance, Susie offers to step-in as the lead due to the other leads and their understudies leaving the academy under various circumstances. During her first performance in-front of Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), dark arts take-over and they lead to one of the most grotesque, gruesome, and beautiful sequences in cinematic history!
As the story continues to build, we start to learn that everything at this academy is not what it appears. Slowly, the mystery begins to unravel as bits and pieces are artistically-revealed one sequence at a time. The ladies of the academy seemingly hint at a much larger plan in-action, involving the young Susie. As Susie suffers from nightmares, the viewer is introduced to her tragic, haunting past and her skill and precision increases. During this time, Patricia’s psychologist, Dr. Josef Klemperer (Lutz Ebersdorf) takes a vested interest in not-only Patricia’s disappearance, but of the stories she told him about the academy. As the rest of the tale unfolds, it does so with patience and with the utmost attention to each miniscule detail; until “Suspiria” reaches its truly incredible and mind-numbing climax. While this story takes a while to tell, the 154 minute run time I thought flew-by is justified. Many of the film’s sequences involve many intriguing, unrelated shots that are briefly shown throughout. While these may seem unnecessary to some, I found them to be essential to the film’s desired effect on one’s psyche due to the emotions they induced in the viewer.
“Suspiria” is by no means your average, run-of-the-mill horror film; style, sophistication, and layered-storytelling separates it from others in the genre and propels it to the top. This film stayed with me long after I left the theater; its haunting tale is filled with so much wonder and intrigue. One of the things I loved most about the film was how it allowed me to formulate my own thoughts, feelings, and opinion to the madness taking-place on the screen. Guadagnino brings the story to life in such a profound way, as I found myself unable to look away during some of the most gruesome and haunting scenes in “Suspiria”. The cast is tremendous, but here Johnson and Swinton are the all-stars. Johnson uses her sexuality, beauty, and charisma to bring Susie to life and Swinton is downright sensational and charming; in more ways than you may even imagine (avoid spoilers!). Luca Guadagnino continues to prove why he is one of the very best in the business, but this will undoubtedly be his most divisive film yet; due to the imaginative, visceral story and the bizarre, artfully-grotesque sequences that tell it. I truly hope people take the opportunity to witness “Suspiria” on the big screen and allow its haunting, grotesque magic to engulf them and I can’t wait to see what Guadagnino does next!