Review of Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria

Halloween may be over but in theaters it is still the season of the witch. A remake of the 1977 movie Suspiria was released in New York and Los Angeles on October 26th. It wasn’t until November 1 that this new movie was available nationwide. This gory yet elegant cult film was directed by Luca Guadagnino, the same director as Academy Award winning movie Call Me By Your Name. The cinematographer for this movie also happens to be from the same movie. 

Suspiria is about witches who work within a dance academy and need to sacrifice the best dancers in order to keep the company and the art of their dance alive. Based in Berlin in 1977, the aftermath of WW2 and the Holocaust do play a role in the film. Susie, played by Dakota Johnson, plays a dancer from Ohio who flips the academy upside down with her arrival as her passionate dancing stuns everyone, including the witches. The second lead is played by Tilda Swinton as Madame Blanc who is one of the head witches within the academy. Throughout the movie, viewers see a special bond form between Blanc and Susie which will eventually play a huge role in one of the ending scenes. The movie is close to three hours long, allowing for a lot to happen, but essentially if a dancer is chosen as a sacrifice they are slowly given different abilities to please who they are being sacrificed to. These abilities may include better balance, higher jumps, and mind communication. The movies follows Susie as she experiences these changes. 

Swinton also plays the role of two other characters, an old doctor who lost his wife in the Holocaust and a demon-like character. She executes all three roles beautifully. 

While there seem to be many mixed reviews about Suspiria, one thing everyone can agree on is the gore, there is plenty of it. Oddly, it is beautiful in the way it is portrayed, yet it can make even the biggest horror fanatic squeamish. In an interview, Guadagnino explained that the human pretzel scene was filmed almost entirely without special effects, which shows off the talent of the first time actor who plays the character of Olga. He also explained how making a movie about witches can be a challenge because he wanted to portray them as powerful and make sure it was from the perspective of the witches. Many of the actors explain how this movie can be viewed as a women empowerment film showing their ability to create and destroy. There is also a lot of nudity in this film which gives off a strong vibe of the power females contain, as explained by Chloë Grace Mortez. 

There has been much talk that this movie may be an obvious choice for an Oscar nomination. 

I personally loved every last bit of this movie. I may have had to cover my eyes for some of the gory scenes, but I would not change anything about them. Suspiria could be compared to Black Swan in the slightest as they both consist of darkness within dance. During one of the ending cult scenes, the color red is everywhere. This along with the filming of a cult ritual left me with a pit in my stomach. I felt as if I was watching something I was forbidden to see. The dancing in the film hypnotized me and I could not look away. For Dakota Johnson not being a professional dancer, she had an incredible performance on screen. I would gladly go to the theater to see this movie again and again. This beautiful mess has made it onto my list of favorite movies.

 

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