Suspiria (2018)

suspiria poster 2018 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visual: 9/10

Visually compelling and strong cast

It almost feels like even with two and a half hours that the story wasn't developed all the way at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Suspiria

Studio:   Frenesy Film Company/Videa/First Sun

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  September 1, 2018 (Venice International Film Festival)/October 26, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

suspiria madam blanc tilda swinton

What’s Blanc’s game?

American Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) has come to the elite Markos Dance Academy in Munich, Germany in 1977 in the hopes of getting a position in the group.  With a surprising audition, Susie gets the nod of approval from the school director Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) who quickly realizes that Susie could be the girl that the school is looking for.  The Markos Dance Academy is run by a coven of witches and a young girl is needed for unique ritual…and Susie has been marked!

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Suspiria is a horror thriller.  The film is a remake-reimagining of the classic Dario Argento film from 1977 and features a soundtrack by Thom Yorke of Radiohead. The movie was released to mixed reviews.

suspiria olga dancing death elena fokina


I like Suspiria and was pretty suspicious about a remake of the film.  The original was a visually compelling film and this movie too tried to be a visual compelling story…and facing off against a classic doesn’t always go well.  Leaving the theater, it was the type of movie where you weren’t even sure if you liked it or not.  A ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

The movie isn’t a straight remake, but it has an odd familiarity to it.  The pieces are all there, but it isn’t quite Suspiria.  In fact, the film does more to get the mythos out of the three witches (Mater Suspiriorum, Mater Tenebrarum, and Mater Lachrymarum) which took Argento three films to tell, and much of the story is more focused than the story in the original Suspiria which built on the likability of the main character caught in a trap.  Here, none of the characters (except the doomed “best friend” Sara Simms) is particularly likable.  Susie seems like a climber who plays innocent (like in All About Eve) while Madame Blanc is a temptress grooming Susie like a molester.

suspiria ending death

Death comes for you

Tilda Swinton is the obvious scene stealer here and plays three roles in the film (something Swinton is becoming known for).  She plays Madame Blanc, the warped witch Helena Markos, and the elderly Jewish Dr. Josef Klemperer (who is credited as Lutz Ebersdorf).  There is something about her which does draw your attention in most of the films she is in. The person who surprised me however was Dakota Johnson who has a very physical role and demanding role and manages to shine in it.  Mia Goth is extremely likable as Sara and the only hope in the movie (so she’s snuffed out).  Elena Fokina makes for a terrifying death as Olga Ivanova using contortion to help make the scene horrific.  Chloë Grace Moretz is the first chosen Patricia Hingle and original Suspiria star Jessica Harper has a small role as Josef Klemperer’s missing wife Anke.

Remember those old “you show up at a coven ceremony with no clothes on” dreams?

While the original Suspiria was built on bright colors, this Suspiria is almost devoid of color.  It is only scenes like the dance where the colors pop and the bloody end.  The music and dance go hand-in-hand and this too is boosted in this version.  The dance is the art here and the horror comes from the art.

The movie is long, but at over two and a half hours, I didn’t feel it like some movies of similar length.  I do find the 1977 portion of the film kind of arbitrary (it was the original release year) and the whole “German Autumn” aspect of the storyline I felt didn’t really pay off for anything other than a way to write off Patricia.  I had kind of hoped that they would have done something with the modern day Markos Dance Academy and an aging Susie instead of the simple coda with Josef’s home, but overall, the film is a thinking film more so than many films of the genre. What questions do remain could be done in a sequel (which there has been talk of)…maybe Inferno or Mother of Tears.

Related Links:

Suspiria (1977)

Inferno (1980)

Mother of Tears (2007)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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