Suspiria: Mesmerizing avant-garde film honoring Argento’s original

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Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

Bannion is from a small town in Ohio, and through a series of flashbacks, we learn that she grew up in a very conservative home. Johnson portrays her character with poise and gives her an essence of innocence, an innocence that she looks somewhat anxious to shed. Susie is shy at first, but underneath her timidness is a curious young woman who enjoys pushing the envelope. Her development throughout the film is remarkable storytelling.

It takes about 30-40 minutes before the real horror kicks in, but the first terrifying scene makes up for lost time. Bannion is taking the lead in a routine, and for the sake of largely keeping this review spoiler free, let’s just say the dance involves a magic spell. The violence that’s revealed during this shot was so graphic that the woman next to me in the theater was literally in the fetal position in her chair, with her head tucked in her knees to shield her eyes. This is one of the most imaginative kills in horror history, and the fact that it is centered on a dance makes it even creepier — the mysterious hook does not disappoint.

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

The essence of the film is exactly that of the title’s meaning, as suspiria is Latin for sighs. We seemingly hear every breath, creek, noise made by the characters and these tools are most powerful when Susie is dancing or sleeping. Johnson is absolutely mesmerizing while performing her routines. Even those who aren’t fans of dance will likely be swept away. Sound is as much of a component in this horror movie as the visuals, if not more, so watching Suspiria with a solid sound system is key.

The story unfolds masterfully as Jozef is convinced by Patricia’s diary to investigate the academy and her disappearance, and we witness the witches plot their unknown plan. For those that don’t know, Argento created the Three Mothers, a trio of witches who control the fate of the world: Mother Tenebrarum (Mother of Darkness); Mother Lachrymarum (Mother of Tears); and Mother Suspiriorum (Mother of Sighs). To the delight of many horror fans, Guadagnino kept that theme.

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Suspiria features plenty of symbolism and, at times, is Lynchian in its delivery. The most obvious symbolism, perhaps, is that of the Cold War that was happening in 1977. In addition, just a few decades removed from World War II, the Markos Dance Academy could be an allegory for Nazi concentration camps. This is one of those horror movies that can be watched many times over, and fans would still have to watch it several more times to connect all the dots.

Suspiria builds brilliantly to the blood-soaked climax, one that will likely stick to your skin long after the credits roll. The finale refreshingly provides a couple of twists that most viewers won’t see coming. The ending is so good that it begs for a sequel and, perhaps, a full Three Mothers trilogy.

The storytelling is done so well, and the drama is just as captivating as the horror, that it’s hard to imagine anyone becoming bored during Suspiria. However, it’s understandable that it may simply be too slow-paced for some viewers. If you primarily watch horror movies that feature jump-scare after jump-scare, then this may not be for you. However, genre fans that enjoy slow-burn horror films will surely be pleased.

Because of brilliant performances and directing, a solid story that’s truly unique, and a couple of surprise twists, Suspiria is one of the best horror movies of 2018.

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Fan of Dario Argento’s Suspiria? See Luca Guadagnino’s remake yet? Let the other demented dancers know what you think in the comment section below.