For those unfamiliar with the original, 1977's "Suspiria" is about a ballet academy run by witches. When a new dancer named Susie Bannion shows up, she begins to discover what truly lies behind the company's mask.
That's about all that Luca Guadagnino's version has in common with Dario Argento's original. However, that does not mean, in any sense, that "Suspiria" does not live up to its predecessor. This film is one of the most unique, original, horrifying, mystifying and stomach-churning movies in years.
In this version, when Susie (Dakota Johnson) arrives, she is welcomed with open arms by Madam Blanc (Tilda Swinton) and Miss Tanner (Angela Winkler). Contrary to Argento's "Suspiria," here we know right off the bat that witches inhabit the school and are in search of a replacement for the dying Mother Markos, a grotesque witch who is only talked about until the end.
Miss Tanner and Madam Blanc see potential in Susie, which shakes the school to its core, as Susie's friend, Sarah (Mia Goth), grows more suspicious scene by scene.
Separate from the main plot is a story about a psychologist named Dr. Josef Klemperer who is helping a former troubled student (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) overcome her traumatic experiences. As he investigates the girl's sudden disappearance, he also becomes involved in what turns into one of the most blood-drenched nightmares ever put on screen.
"Suspiria" is completely dark in tone and gets somehow darker as it progresses. Audiences slowly get increasingly sucked into this nightmare that came right from the mind of Guadagnino. Surprisingly, this gifted filmmaker was the man behind last year's "Call Me By Your Name," a touching yet heartbreaking romance that takes place in a breathtakingly beautiful setting in 1970s Italy. The very fact that he can make that one year, and then step right into a topic like this shows his range.
This is Johnson's most transformative role. Given her roles in the "Fifty Shades" movies, she needed a film that could set her on the path to more diverse roles. "Suspiria" will, without a doubt, give her more chances to express her talents. As great as she is, though, the big talk about this film is Swinton, as there is a secret about her performance that has been revealed to the public. However, for those who don't know, it's better to not look it up. Realizing it during the movie will have much more of a mind-blowing effect. That said, her talents shine brightly here.
The film's nightmarish qualities come to life through its mixing of horror subgenres. It mixes bloody horror with supernatural and psychological horror. There are some incredibly grotesque scenes throughout, and from start to finish there is a foreboding feeling of dread that stays in our minds, even hours after viewing, much like "The Shining."
Watching "Suspiria" is an experience different from any other, one that many will not dare to undertake. Admittedly, it's not for everyone. It's weird, creepy and not at all like the other conventional type of horror films released of late, i.e. "The Nun" and "The Conjuring."
This film can't be confidently recommend for everyone, but it's worth a shot if you're up to it. It is masterfully crafted enough to deserve attention and praise as one of the greatest horror films ever made.
Best scene: That horribly gory and nightmarish ending
Most grotesque moment: It's about a half hour into the movie. (You'll know when you see it.)