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REVIEW — “Suspiria”

I cannot believe this is going wide.

Suspiria is directed by Luca Guadagnino, written by David Kajganich, based on the 1977 film directed by Dario Argento. It stars Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler, Ingrid Caven, Elena Fokina, Sylvie Testud, Renée Soutendijk, Christine LeBoutte, Fabrizia Sacchi, Małgosia Bela, Jessica Harper, and Chloë Grace Moretz. It tells the story of a young American dancer, Susie Bannion, who arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Co. Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist and a member of the troupe uncover dark and sinister secrets as they probe the depths of the studio’s hidden underground chambers. Now, I’m not a hardcore fan of the original 1977 film like others, but I find myself watching it every year around Halloween and Luca’s last film Call Me By Your Name was one of my favorite films of last year, so it’s safe to say I was very excited for this. That coupled with the killer cast and the awesome marketing that followed the film’s release, this had all the ingredients to be something I really loved. Did I? Absolutely not. Suspira is a frustrating, pretentious mess with a completely unfocused and muddled plot that goes on forever. Fans will say it’s not for everyone.  That’s because it’s not very good at all.

Luca Guadagnino directs here and I can’t be more heartbroken. How do you go from one of the best films of last year to this garage? Guadagnino completely fails on all fronts and appears to be doing a poor Lars Von Trier impression with this. Suspiria lacks focus, tension, and any form of entertainment. It is overly long, self-indulgent, and almost nonsensical. There are a few scenes (and I mean a few) that demonstrate his skill as a director and deliver very effective and disturbing content, but the majority of the film feels masturbatory and pretentious. It’s such a disappointment because I know Guadagnino could have the delivered the disturbing and thought-provoking this film seems to think it is.

David Kajganich penned the script and I would be fascinated to read it. It is so odd and convoluted that I can’t even begin to imagine what it looks like. It is so muddled and intentionally abstract that even the most attentive audience members would have trouble following the plot. Now, while this is not necessarily a bad thing, the execution of this script is so poor, that I have no desire to even rewatch this film, let alone dedicate time to a proper analysis of its dense plot. I would be interested to see how much of the films abstract and metaphorical nature was in Kajanich’s script and how much was Luca’s directorial choices. Regardless, there are choices in this film that are baffling and the plot, while confusing, is never surprising or disturbing.

While I clearly didn’t like Suspiria, I can’t deny the talent of its cast. Dakota Johnson does a stellar job in the lead role, delivering a compelling and strong performance that almost made up for the trash she was in. Tilda Swinton is very… brave in her acting, delivering many interesting performances. Mia Goth also delivers very effective and unnerving performances and the entire cast does a fine job. However, I did find issue with Chloë Grace Moretz and one of Swinton’s aspects. Moretz is in it fleetingly and while she does a fine job, the editing in her scenes do her no favors. And as for Swinton, without spoiling anything, a certain side of her performance completely took me out of the film and baffled me. It was unnecessary and did nothing to add to the film as a whole.

Technically, Suspira is the definition of a mixed bag. At times, it’s a beautifully shot and scored film, and at times is a choppy, dull, and almost laughable mess. This may be the worst editing I’ve seen all year. There are technical choices that seriously made me laugh out loud. The cinematography flip flops from stunning to painfully dull. The score changes so often that finding a common theme would be impossible. If the story wasn’t already a mess, it’s technical side does it no favor.

So, I clearly hated Suspira. It’s horrifying, and not in the way it intends to be. 1/5


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