I have always had a routine when it comes to how I go about and write these here reviews. For me I usually like to sit down right after the movie and say what I have to say with everything fresh in my mind. Some movies deserve more time to let things settle, to help you comprehend what you just witnessed. Luca Guadagnino’s interpterion of Dario Argento’s classic horror film Suspiria is just such a film as I needed to think about what I just saw. On the surface there was beauty with dangers that lie just beneath, but I know there was so much more than needed to be unraveled deep in the confines of my brain.
The year is 1977 and a prestige Berlin dance company is led by a legendary dancer named Madame Blanc, who is very selective on who she allows in. Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) is so sure of her abilities that she travels to Berlin without a promised audition but wows them all when she is given the chance. The pure joy to work with Madame Blanc has set Susie on a high as she quickly sets herself apart in short time and takes the lead in the next performance. Things though are not all as they seem, as the two previous top girls have disappeared with one going to a Dr. Josef Klemperer (Lutz Ebersdorf) and telling him what’s been happening. It is when she disappears that he dives deeper, but never seems to get anywhere as he is blocked at every turn. Meanwhile another is becoming aware with the truth, but when one discovers what is really going on, that person doesn’t get a chance to tell anyone. Nothing is what is seems and when it is all revealed it will leave your senses in overload as the truth will blow you away.
Retelling a classic story always comes with risk, but while Suspiria is held in high regard in some circles in most it is not known. Putting it in the hands of Luca Guadagnino (Call be by your Name) guarantees a beauty and grace that is oh so very present. It also clear that he holds Argento’s classic in high regard and does things like setting the film in ’77 ( the year the original film came out) and casting Alice Harper who played Bannion the first time round. While those nods are a nice touch for the fans, it is everything else that will make so many new ones. The beauty in this film stands out as well as the dance routines which at times don’t seem possible, it takes what you see to another level. This story is not trying to grab you and hold you for the entire time, no it wants you to get comfortable before it pulls the rug out from under you leaving you in awe. What might test you though is its two and a half hour run time, but while it at times feel long the payoff is so worth it. Suspiria is a slow burn, but in the end it will linger in the mind and leave its mark on you.