A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the troupe's artistic director, an ambitious young dancer and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare, others will finally wake up.
Luca's "Suspiria" brought me no words.
The horror in this movie is not like anything else I've ever heard or seen. The sheer film in Luca's "Suspiria" is not like anything that is made by major movie studios such as Columbia, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Disney, and the like. Director Luca Guadagnino transitioning from the LGBTQ+ drama adaptation "Call Me By Your Name" — transitioning to the avant-garde, psychological study in his version of famed director Dario Argento's 1977 "Suspiria".
Horror movies today don't scare me. Horror movies of the 21st century seem to be involved in so much gratuitous gore, typical plotlines, a roulette set of actors playing quasi-characterization, varying degress of quality. Luca's "Suspiria" — a horror movie from 2018 — did not scare me. Luca's "Suspiria" unnerved me. Luca's "Suspiria" built slowly in tension, but also captivated me with raw interest — "Suspiria" dealt its final blow, finishing with a nightmarish sixth act and an epilogue.
Argento's "Suspiria" is a movie out of time in its own way. Argento's "Suspiria", a film released in 1977, looks fresh and modern — Argento's "Suspiria"'s fixation on primary neon colors and gore — Argento's "Suspiria" with prog-rock, percussion score by the band Goblin. Director Dario Argento, however, does not like Luca's "Suspiria". Director Dario Argento claims it is without spirit, fear and music — Argento thinks the design is beautiful, so Guadagnino must have done something right.
Luca's "Suspiria" is a movie unlike anything out of sheer audacity to become its own. Luca's "Suspiria" in the way it handles narrative into six different, self-contained "acts" ending with an epilogue — Luca's "Suspiria" in its washed-out, bleak setting complementing queer, disenfranchised coloring and nonconforming visual narrative — Luca's "Suspiria" with its brooding realism, mysterious witchcraft and black magic — Luca's "Suspiria" with mesmerizing visuals; unexplained syntax; self-contained exposure; restraint. Horror in Luca's "Suspiria" is much more than simple disgusting imagery — Gore in Luca's "Suspiria" is far and in between, but is visceral and disgusting all the same — Nudity in Luca's "Suspiria" is all female, except one male.
Politics and dance in Luca's "Suspiria" are vital to understanding 2018 "Suspiria". Dance carries witchcraft and spells, and with it — uncompromising emotion, femininity, power, and rawness. The German Autumn of 1977, in which Luca's "Suspiria" is set in a time where Berlin is divided into East and West (and when Argento's "Suspiria" was released). The Lufthansa hijacking and the RAF faction. The mention of the Third Reich by Dr. Klemperer as a religion, and a delusion. What is and is not a delusion.
There's something dramatic about Luca's "Suspiria" itself. Dr. Lutz Klemperer in losing his beloved wife, Anke, in the Holocaust. Sara in losing her beloved friend, Patricia. Madame Blanc in beginning to love her newfound daughter, only to regret what she has done to her. The three girls in the ritual wishing for death, to be given a motherly kiss and then die. Klemperer's meek inability to stop what he has witnessed through psychotherapy; his helpless stature in the finale. His erased memory to absolve him of his guilt, and of what he had to witness.
Dakota Johnson; the one actress from the terrible, mainstream "Fifty Shades" film trilogy. Dakota Johnson becomes remarkably unnerving, feminine, sexual, motherly, and incomprehensible. Tilda Swinton — her counterpart, Lutz Ebersdorf. Tilda Swinton's role as a matriarch and founding mother of a coven; Lutz Ebersdorf's role as a skeptical psychotherapist; a grieving widow. Chloe Grace Moretz as a politically-troubled woman; unstable woman; paranoid woman. Everyone's performance as their roles felt utterly average — Everyone's average performance as their roles grounded reality to the movie.
Thom Yorke in the music department did a nice job. Thom Yorke's score for Luca's "Suspiria" evoked the mood of a 70s prog-rock band with a niche for ambient synthscapes, musique concrete moods and piano experimentation; if we're judging Thom Yorke's soundtrack, its a nice collection of songs that should have been a Radiohead double album than a soundtrack. Of course, Thom Yorke's score did not always fit Luca's "Suspiria"; Some scenes with Thom Yorke's pieces grated the scenes' moods to pieces, yet in a similar manner as Goblin's score for Argento's "Suspiria".
* A movie that left me deeply unsettled, and scared in my subconscious. A movie that made me depressed when it was depressed. A multi-faceted piece, Luca's "Suspiria" is a rooted testament in femininity and matriarchy. Luca's "Suspiria" is a movie without words.