Suspiria (2018) (a film review by Mark R. Leeper).

An American girl from Ohio gets an opportunity to study at a prestigious dance academy in Germany. She jumps at the prospect in spite of being told that the women who run the school are actually witches.

This is a remake of the 1977 classic horror film directed by Dario Argento. This version, directed by Luca Guadagnino, expands on the original offering generous slices of performance of modern (well, 1977) dance. Some sequences offer beautiful art while others are ponderous and slow. There is a good deal of nudity. Dakota Johnson plays the main character, Susie Bannion. Tilda Swinton co-stars and Jessica Harper, the star of ‘Suspiria’ (1977), is somewhere in the new film.

Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10.

Suspiria (2018) (a film review by Mark R. Leeper).
Suspiria (2018) (a film review by Mark R. Leeper).

The original 1977 version of ‘Suspiria’ had quite a decent response from American horror film fans, though I myself was ambivalent. In this film, an American dance student is barely in the doors of her new dance academy when she starts hearing strange rumors that the women who run the school are actually witches. She, of course, is sceptical but that is just one of several lines of conflict occurring at the school and outside. The teaching 1977 is the time of the Baader Meinhof terrorists and inside the school.

The filmmakers let us in on some competing theories of dance and, saved for the last part of the film, the discussion shifts to the Holocaust. It does create a feeling of menace that hangs over the viewer. Both versions of the film have much the same surreal quality.

The new film is bigger and more colourful than was the original film. Director Guadagnino spends the time to show the audience a nice sample of Damien Jalet’s brand of choreography and that is a plus which elevates the film. It also shows that somebody in the production cared about a little more than just shocking the viewer.

Meanwhile, the story is told in frequently long and tedious takes. Not all of the plot makes sense. Some of the scenes go past faster than the eye can parse them. Overall, at over two and a half hours the story does drag.

Suspiria (2018) was released by Amazon Studios last October in the US. I rate it a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

Mark R. Leeper

(c) Mark R. Leeper 2018

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