This new version of Suspiria is a mad and maddening prospect. A classy remake of an utterly bonkers 70s horror film, it is a film that has swollen to a bladder-testing two-and-a-half hours in length, exploring guilt and loss, as well as the fraught political situation in 70s
Taking place in a prestigious dance academy, Suspiria (mostly) follows a new recruit who joins soon after another student has mysteriously disappeared. Soon it becomes apparent that behind the creative brilliance of the school lies a darkness. And all the while a psychiatrist tries to unpick where the missing student has gone.
Can a film be simultaneously bonkers brilliance and an irritating indulgence? Suspiria is a gorgeously shot, stately affair that moves slowly and will test many a horror fan's patience. One can assume early on where this film will end up but director Luca Guadagnino takes his film down so many tangents that you want to tap him on the shoulder and marshal him along to the inevitable bonkersness. And when said bonkersness comes it takes the film off the deep end and into a gloriously bloody territory. At times it feels remarkable that this comes from the same director as Call Me By Your Name.
Tilda Swinton is marvellous, taking on a trio of roles. Her performances are quietly understated yet bristling with energy. She keeps the film grounded, even as proceedings get sillier and sillier. There is a roster of fabulous performances from the fellow dance teachers who all seem to be having a lot of fun as part of the coven. Where the film falls down is with the students under the academy's spell. Frustratingly Suspiria has seemingly broken up a central role into three different parts. Dakota Johnson's Susie should be the emotional core but she is too unknowable, lacking a narrative drive until the end. Mia Goth is effective in the role of the student digging into the academy's mystery but it feels a part that exists purely to push the narrative to the third act escalation. And Chloë Grace Moretz feels somewhat wasted here.
I have allowed Suspiria a couple of weeks to sit in me before I wrote this review. The film has a power that lingers after the credits and while I think it is at times too slow an indulgence, lacking a propulsion that will turn off some horror fans, it is nonetheless a fascinating film. It certainly won't leave you bored and at the very least gives audiences another brilliant performance from Swinton. And those are always worth seeing.