Suspiria Review

Suspiria

Recycling is so hot right now.

From plastic bottles that only ever ended up in Chinese landfills anyway, to Adolf Hitler’s rebranded ‘rights for whites’ programme currently going down a storm in the good ol us of a.

And Hollywood – home of that mythical leftie luvvie that only ever existed in the tiny, little febrile minds of right-wing nutjobs – is keen to play its part too, if only by remaking old films over and over again.

The latest remake du jour is Dario Argento’s cult horror classic, Suspiria – and by casting Don Johnson and Melanie Griffiths kid Dakota in the lead role, Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino has even managed to recycle a famous name.

Susie is an Ohioan fish out of water who’s always dreamed of being a dancer.

Despite having no formal training, our girl has somewhat preposterously petitioned for -and won – an audition at the prestigious Markos dance academy in Germany.

Conceived in the early forties as a supposed physical manifestation of Berlin’s counter-culture to nazi rule, Markos spellbinding routines are renowned for their innovative choreography and visceral performances.

And it’s against another backdrop of bombs and terror that Susie will make her audition as eighties Germany is caught in the grip of terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Baader-Meinhof gang.

In a bizarre twist of fate, our dancing queen also has these terrorists to thank for her audition – as the sudden and mysterious disappearance of Markos’ previous prima ballerina has created a vacancy in the company.

At least, that’s what the elder women of Markos would have you believe – but as Susie delves further and further into this strange new world, so the true nature of this dance company is slowly revealed.

As our world seems hell bent on creating an age of nostalgia, circa 1930’s Germany, so Hollywood is starting to mirror this desire to go back in time to a so called ‘golden age’.

And it this has nothing to do with them running out of original ideas.

Then again, seeing as I haven’t seen the original version of Suspiria, perhaps that’s no bad thing.

Guadagnino’s incarnation begins in promising fashion, as Dakota Johnson’s wide eyed dancing ingenue contrasts pleasingly with a brutalist 80’s period berlin background that could have been painted in numerous shades of grey.

Things swiftly take a turn for the sinister though, graphically illustrated in one gruesome dance sequence that sees one dancing outcast twisted inside and out like a human pretzel before her carcass is dragged into the bowels of the dance company’s basement.

Unfortunately, this was the high point of Suspiria for me, as it rhythmically builds towards a gratuitously blood soaked climax that comes across as a rather far-fetched League of Gentleman outtake.

Of course, it may well be that said gentleman are in fact just a poor man’s tribute act of Argento’s original.

In fact, the more I hear about the authentic Suspiria – with its vivid colours and otherworldly soundtrack – the more I want to see this for myself.

And if that was Guadagnino’s purpose, than consider it achieved.

His take on Suspiria is an interesting addition to the now bloated horror genre that’s so hot right now, but you may just want to take a leaf out of Hollywood’s book and dig out the original instead.

Jonathan Campbell

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November 2018
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