Despite being advertised as a remake of the original, Suspiria throws most of it out of the window and instead pays homage to a grotesque piece of cinema.
While some critics have accused Suspiria of being too self-indulgent, too long, and too over the top, that’s exactly why I adored it. It’s utterly dedicated to being too much of everything, an assault to the senses and mind that leaves you feeling both violated and enraptured.
Containing scenes that are worthy of a permanent fixture in horrors hall of fame, the raw physicality of every movement made by the characters adds an unsettling quality to even the most innocent scenes.
Speaking of horrors hall of fame, the Olga scene was one of the most grotesque yet beautiful scenes I’ve ever witnessed in cinema. Even the audio production was horrifying. The sound of every breath in Susie’s audition scene attacked all my nerve endings, and the score blended so flawlessly with the dances that you can’t even process where the movements end and the sounds begin.
I spent most of the film with my hands over my mouth feeling sick to my stomach, but I was engaged with every second of this gorgeously melancholic nightmare.
When it comes to the performance, Tilda Swinton’s flawless portrayal of not one, not two, but three characters was a demonstration of a depth of talent beyond compare. No other actor could have accomplished what she did.
Even so, Mia Goth somehow managed to outshine her as the standout performance of the film. From the second she first appears, it becomes impossible to take your eyes off her. Her portrayal of Sara is mesmerising, particularly later in the film, and there is one momentary shot of her during the Volk dance that was so haunting, so disturbing that it becomes completely indescribable.
When it comes to the main character, Susie Bannion is easily one of Dakota Johnson’s best roles, and will hopefully catapult her beyond her ‘Fifty Shades’ reputation. Played with both naivety and subtle menace, the physicality she brings to the performance adds new depth to a character that otherwise risks losing their spot as the centrepiece.
Suspiria is also one of the most fascinating portraits of authoritarianism and narcissistic control I’ve ever witnessed. The mirroring of the coven with Berlin’s political climate adds new depth and relevance to the ‘real world’, while also playing on themes of survivors guilt and always feeling like ‘we should have done something’. I left the theatre feeling completely disturbed, completely attacked, and completely in love.
One quote in particular stuck with me long after I left the theatre:
“The world needs guilt and shame. But it does not need yours.”
No other director could have made this film to this level of quality. The boldness of Luca Guadagnino proves that horror can be stylish and death can be beautiful. To quote Tilda Swinton’s Madame Blanc, he ‘broke the nose of everything beautiful’.
The final sequence is a display of pure ecstasy, with every horrible second leaving you exhilarated. You, like me, will leave the theatre feeling absolutely traumatised and enraptured. It’s horrifically gruesome while also devastatingly beautiful, and any review of this film wouldn’t be complete without complimenting the aesthetics.
The intensity of the red during the Volk dance and final sequence is grotesque and shocking compared to the deliberately neutral and muted palette of the rest of the film. The whole work is extremely visual, with both graphic contortionism and nudity that took the cult-like devotion to new and unexpected levels.
One of the most thought-provoking and well-made horror films in recent memory, ‘Suspiria’ deserves awards it will never be nominated for. If you want to fully understand the gravitas and quality of this film, it’s well worth going to see it on the big screen.
By Katie Ansell