In 1997 Dario Argento directed Suspiria. It became a horror classic. The film became an instant classic among horror fans all over the world. It ranks high on many horror lists and seems to get a collector edition release every few years. The soundtrack by Goblin, like the film itself has become legendary as well. And to be completely honest I don’t share in the undying love of this film that most horror fans do. I think it’s just an ok film at best. SO when a remake was announced I didn’t jump on the hate wagon. I am still in shock that a remake was done art house style from an Italian Horror Film that aside from the hardcore horror fans is truthfully a little obscure. But I consider remakes a genre of film now so I went in with no feelings of the original what so ever.
Suspiria takes place in Germany during 1977. It focuses on Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) an American who is accepted to the Tanz Dance Academy. The academy is currently up in arms after one of the girls, Patricia Hingle (Chloe Grace Moretz) has disappeared. Before she vanished she left behind a journal showing the academy is actually a coven for witches. This is proven to the audience when one of the students who was Patricia’s friend attempts to leave the academy but is instead locked in a room surrounded by mirrors. As she is trapped one of the girls begins practicing a dance that causes Olga (the girl in the mirror room) to begin acting it out as well. The problem is the dance is very flailing to say the least and Olga begins smashing into all the mirrors killing her.
During all of this Susie begins winning more favor with the heads of the academy, and the coven decides to use Susie as a vessel for their leader Mother Markos.
This film, is simply put, long. Clocking in at a little over two and a half hours the film is paced very slowly. It looks good, in a trippy art house way, but it really could have been edited down. The plot is simple, yet stretched out to an absurd length. The original film clocked in at around 95min and that felt slow at times. The reason for much of the added time is due to the dance numbers. They are extremely well done, and used to symbolize witchcraft sequences, but to me it doesn’t mesh with the other horror elements of the film.
Speaking of the other elements, the film is loaded with metaphors and themes. From Motherhood, to compassion and guilt the film lays it on heavy. Just watch the special features, or read any of the many interviews and articles about the film for a full dissertation on the subjects.
One of the things I will complement is the fact that this film is a reimagining as opposed to a remake. It uses the plot points of the original film but expands upon it immensely. Argento had made a trilogy of films he called the Three Mothers Trilogy, which this film does make a reference to. The plans are of course to make a sequel to this one.
If you missed it during its theater run its now available on Blu-ray and DVD. The transfer looks great and really does the lighting and sound justice. The audio booms from the speakers during the dance sequences.
This is not a film for everyone. It’s very different, very slow, and very much an arthouse film as opposed to a horror movie. Its definitely worth watching, and I do recommend checking it out, just go in remembering it’s like nothing you have ever seen.
Overall 2.5 out of 5 Stars