October Review: Suspiria (2018)

“Why is everyone so ready to think the worst is over?”

It’s October of 2021, the Plague still stalks the land, some folk point to the Plague Doctors in fear and trembling, and our second October review looks at that frequently most-frightening of horror film phenomenon, the unasked-for remake.

Alex reviewed the original Suspiria in October of 2018, shortly before this remake was released. It’s more a re-envisioning, which won several awards, polarized critics, and largely failed at the box office.

Cast and Crew

Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Written by David Kajganich
Inspired by Suspiria by Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi

Tilda Swinton as Dr. Klemperer / Madame Blanc / Helena Markos
Chloë Grace Moretz as Patricia Hingle
Dakota Johnsonas Susie Bannion
Doris Hick as Frau Sesame
Malgorzata Bela as Susie’s Mother / Death
Angela Winkler as Miss Tanner
Vanda Capriolo as Alberta
Alek Wek as Miss Millius
Jessica Batut as Miss Mandel
Elena Fokina as Olga
Mia Goth as Sara
Clémentine Houdart as Miss Boutaher
Ingrid Caven as Miss Vendegast
Sylvie Testud as Miss Griffith
Fabrizia Sacchi as Pavla
Brigitte Cuvelier as Miss Kaplitt
Renée Soutendijk as Miss Huller
Christine Leboutte as Miss Balfour
Vincenza Modica as Miss Marks
Marjolaine Uscotti as Miss Daniels
Charo Calvo as Miss Killen
Sharon Campbell as Miss Martincin
Elfriede Hock as Miss Mauceri
Iaia Ferri as Judith
Gala Moody as Caroline
Sara Sguotti as Doll
Olivia Ancona as Marketa
Anne-Lise Brevers as Sonia
Halla Thordardottir as Mascia
Stephanie McMann as Siobhan
Majon Van der Schot as Janine
Maria Bregianni as Sadie
Josepha Madoki as Liza Jane
Navala ‘Niko’ Chaudhari as Marianne
Karina El Amrani as Hermione
Mikael Olsson as Agent Glockner
Fred Kelemen as Agent Albrecht
Greta Bohacek as Young Susie
Jessica Harper as Anke
Joel-Dennis Bienstock as Mennonite Priest

Note: the credits identify one “Lutz Ebersdorf” in the role of Klemperer, and many viewers did not recognize the American actress in the role of an older German man.

Jessica Harper, who has a significant minor role, played Susie in the original film.

Premise

An abused girl joins an elite dance school in Germany run by a coven of witches. Meanwhile, the investigation into a missing student uncovers dark secrets.

High Points

Tilda Swinton gets all the points for her roles, which include a female choreographer/witch and a male analyst who stumbles onto a mystery. She also reportedly contributed ideas as a sort of artistic collaborator.

The film features a strong opening and a number of disturbing scenes.

Low Point

The movie’s own ambition undermines it. We have commentary on specific events in German history in 1977, when it takes place, and on the horrific events of the Nazi era. It offers thematic reflections on abuse, collective guilt, the role of women, and numerous other topics. It also wants to be an arthouse-friendly horror movie, a sinister mystery, a character study, a commentary on religion, and a reasonable successor to its cult horror inspiration.

That’s not a movie. That’s a series. I think they were thinking of a series.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 This adaptation deviates significantly from the original, while preserving many elements of the source material. They get a point for how they’ve reconceptualized the witch cult. The concept of dance as spell-casting strikes me as particularly clever– but, as the film progresses, we realize the changes from the original concept go much deeper.

Effects: 6/6 Suspiria. features some impressive make-up and effects. The visuals used for Olga involve practical effects, CGI, and the performer’s own physical contortions.

Acting: 6/6 The film boasts an extraordinary—if large– cast. I have discussed Swinton’s performances under the film’s High Points.

Production: 6/6 The film gives us a dark world, in contrast to the original’s bold colours.
The unusual score, by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, becomes an integral part of the experience.

Emotional Response: 4/6 Sinister and foreboding gives way to cluttered and confusing…

Story: 3/6 …Despite the excesses and chaos, the story often draws you in, especially when we’re at the school itself. The final twists bring a comparatively original interpretation to the film’s occult activity. It’s not enough to save Suspiria

Overall: 4/6 …but there is much in this re-envisioning to ponder.

Suspiria (2018) receives 32/42

Our October Countdown continues throughout this month:

2: Tales from the Crypt (1972)
9. Suspiria (2018)
16: Vampire Circus (1972)
23: Dune (2021)
30: Body Bags (1993)
31. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

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