Suspiria will take your breath away


Image courtesy of YouTube

Even Suspiria’s trailer will give you chills.

Shrey Parikh, Reporter

A remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 Italian horror classic of the same name, Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” is a whole new breed of horror; aimed at getting under your skin rather than scaring you out of it. Deeply unsettling from its first frame to its last, “Suspiria” is a gory venture into madness overlaid by a blatant disregard for any semblance of comfort.


Opening with the promise of “six acts and an epilogue,” the film truly is, as described by star Tilda Swinton, a horr-epic. Though the structure seems straightforward in its explanation, the ensuing 150 minutes ensure that nothing could be further from the truth.


At the center of “Suspiria” is Susie Bannion, played here by an award-worthy Dakota Johnson, an American Mennonite accepted into the prestigious Markos Dance Academy in West Berlin. Susie is immediately taken under the wing of Swinton’s Madame Blanc, the severe, motherly choreographer of the company.


Severity seems to be the name of the game with Guadagnino.


The director refuses to compromise in any and all capacities, leading to a film that often feels indulgent due to its length. The dance sequences are sharp and refined, with Johnson and the other dancers moving in quick, almost violent, steps, exemplified by their juxtaposition with the violence that the dancing causes.


In “Suspiria,” dance is the weapon of witchcraft through which Blanc asserts her control over the academy. In Susie’s first practice with the group, her performance is quickly intercut with glimpses of the dancer she has replaced, her motions bending and crushing the woman’s body beyond recognition.


It’s disturbing in the truest sense, but at the same time, it’s almost hypnotic, and you can’t look away.


Perhaps where “Suspiria” falters most is its focus, an essential feature that seems to have been compromised in favor of its grand scope. Guadagnino chooses to follow several storylines outside that of the Markos Academy, and none pay off until the final 20 minutes.


In one of the secondary storylines, Swinton’s second role takes center stage; a male psychologist named Josef Klemperer. Though the transformation is fascinating and entertaining, it doesn’t compensate for the lack of progress that comes from its runtime.


Though Guadagnino’s ambition is admirable, it often gets the best of him here.

That’s not to say that his risks don’t pay off. For the score, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke was hired to write his first motion picture score, a gamble that paid off greatly. Yorke’s score is soft and understated, with several tracks that are accompanied by haunting vocals that add to the intensity of their respective scenes. Tracks “Volk” and “Unmade” in particular showcase Yorke’s skill and hint at his future in the film scoring business.


“Suspiria” stuns visually as well, with an almost completely washed-out color scheme, emphasizing only the shades of red, eventually building to a final scene that literally drowns in the color red. It also works particularly well during the film’s most captivating scene, a hypnotic performance of the “Volk” that simmers with the presence of a much more sinister entity.


On its surface, “Suspiria” presents itself as a typical horror movie, but as time passes, it becomes increasingly evident that it’s anything but.


The lengthy runtime will scare away most viewers, and the slow burn may appear to have no payoff in sight, but for those that stick with it, “Suspiria” offers more pure terror and unease than many horror films of the past decade. With stunning, captivating visuals and fantastic performances all around, Suspiria will take your breath away, and likely your sleep along with it.


Click here for the Suspiria official trailer.