Chew's Reviews - Suspiria

By Gary Chew | November 1, 2018 |

Just in time for Halloween and Day Of The Dead ... not to mention the 2018 mid-term elections, we've got ourselves an update on Dario Argento's 1977 film, SUSPIRIA. By the way, Argento is called “The Master Of Horror.” He's well defined as such since the remake of this chilling, blood-gurgling movie gushes via Gothic fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen; but hastening to add I say: this redux, directed by Signore Luca Guadagnino, might even shock the hell out of Argento. As Tommy Lee Jones, in the character of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in No Country For Old Men once drawled, “Well, it certainly got my attention!”

With the new SUSPIRIA, Kristen Stewart is moving over, it seems, to make room for Dakota Johnson as she now emerges as the young person's female guide to all that's dark and erotic upon the big screen. Johnson is cast as the ingenue in version number two: Susan Bannion. I'm not yet scholarly on the work of Johnson, but Stewart-wise: Kristen shows, getting some time and distance from the cinema's Lugosi Syndrome, to have morphed into a first-rate film actor. I still remind movie fans: if you haven't seen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria … better do it.

But we've got witches 'n' magic to talk up regarding Guadagnino's new Suspiria treatment. Besides Dakota, another perfectly placed actor is Tilda Swinton. If you've seen Tilda in but only one film, you haven't forgotten her. She rather resembles David Bowie, or at least she's as androgynous as the late, great Bowie was. And Swinton, like Bowie, has maintained her “slender man, er … “slender woman” figure.

SUSPIRIA is akin to Darron Aronosky's BLACK SWAN starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. Both films are quite dark and deal with dancing and dancers. Although SWAN isn't timid by any stretch, it doesn't stretch nearly as far into weirdness and, what I call, insanity … as SUSPIRIA does. All that is supernatural again lurks in the remake of Argento's original; supernatural, and what many call religious insanity.

Compounding the weirdness, Suspiria is set well after World War II in Berlin. But it's East Berlin. The Soviet Union is now throttling that end of Deutschland, even though the stench of fascism has yet to waft into history. (Does it ever?) Yes, all characters are really weird, except for Miss Bannion, who's come all the way from Ohio to learn how to dance with Madame Blanc (Tilda) as her masterful teacher.

The Tanz building shown in the film is also a dorm for all the females who've been allowed to come and work under Madame Blanc and her team of very weird women. All of them are androgynous of course ... except for Susan and another dancer called Sara, played by Mia Goth. She was in the cast of Lars Von Trier's very weird movie, NYMPHOMANIA: VOLUME II, which you may recall had another good female actor who also usually appears in weird movies: Charlotte Gainsbough. For sure, Ms. Gainsbourgh would have neatly fit into Guadagnino picture.

SUSPIRA's plot hangs with, to a great extent, an old, professional man at odds with the coven over at the Tanz Hall. He recalls, in flashback, his gone-missing wife during WWII. She's played by Jessica Harper, who happened to do Suzy Bannion in SUSPIRIA number one. Harper just couldn't say no.

With the current political rhetoric flying across the nation on media ... news and social, I wouldn't want to suggest the phrase that “SUSPIRIA is a witch hunt.” It is, however, safe to say that the movie is more what witches are hunting, and who are some of those caught up, so to speak, by these clever females.

Copyright © 2018 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.


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