Luca Guadagnino - known previously for I Am Love and A Bigger Splash - broke through at this year’s academy awards with his oscar winning adaptation of André Aciman’s immersive and sensesual novel Call Me By Your Name. Making a less than smooth transition from coming of age romance to art-house psychological horror, Guadagnino takes a stab at (no pun intended) Dario Argento’s 1977 Suspiria. This remake follows the same story, but not the same formula as the original. A passionate dancer named Susie moves to Berlin to audition for a prestigious dance academy, however she soon becomes engulfed by the dark, sacrilegious spirits that shroud the centre of the school and its teachers.
Suspiria is disturbing and mesmerising even if, at times, somewhat pretentious and over the top. Guadagnino threatens to rip the envelope in half with his very out there, very evocative remake of a classic Italian chiller. With a gruesome artistic flare, Suspiria knows no bounds and provokes that uneasy, sickening feeling from the depths of your stomach - it’s a particularly intense and distressing experience. In fact sometimes these soul-stirring images cross the line between what we perceive as art and that of pure insanity. Nonetheless Suspiria is buoyed by Guadagnino’s absorbing direction, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s bewitching cinematography and Thom Yorke's haunting score. Suspiria is a rare beast, so sinister in themes but so rich in visuals - tormenting you as to whether you should be transfixed by the screen or shade your eyes from the horrors that play before you.
Whilst a host of people worked hand in hand to make Call Me By Your Name the film it was, the cinematography was one of its most extraordinary, standout achievements. Mukdeeprom drew you into Elio’s blazing hot summer with the juicy tang of ripe, fuzzy peaches and the dappled sun which danced between tree branches. He visioned a dreamy world that, similarly to Elio, had you beginning for more. Mukdeeprom does the same here, and whilst it’s decidedly not dreamlike we feel the cold isolation echo through the halls of the academy and the evil that lurks amid the spiralling stairwells. Moreover he cleverly mimics typical camera movements from the period the film is set; crash zooms specifically capture characters' sharp glares and are reminiscent of a particular style that is rarely now in fashion.
Tilda Swinton plays not one, not two, but three characters. Her main role as Madame Blanc is all about stern facial expressions and darting eye contact. Whilst this may seem like no compliment Swinton is the quintessential Wicked Witch of the West, her calm muted approach feels all the more unsettling. For her next two performances Swinton is dressed in heavy prosthetics. Firstly, extremely convincing as Dr. Josef Klemperer, her depiction of a male character is the stuff of pure witchcraft. Her final character - Mother Markos - is simply used to service the head scratching and monstrous finale. Swinton is certainly a favourite of Guadagnino, appearing in a number of his works - and he definitely draws the best out of this unique, method actress. Dakota Johnson is otherwise forgettable - but Mia Goth turns in an excellent performance as Susie's suspicious dance buddy Sara.
Though it doesn't touch what the director has done before, something about Suspiria really sticks with you - whether that is down to the sickening violence, disturbing imagery or engrossing cinematography. Alas it takes a sudden nose-dive in the flamboyantly artistic finale, yet Guadagnino successfully puts his own spin on Suspiria - with far bleaker visuals and a more psychological twist.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.