‘Suspira’ Remake is Tense and Unnerving

The latest film from director Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name”; “A Bigger Splash”) is “Suspiria,” a new imagining of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic of the same name.

This movie follows Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) who is an American student recently inducted into a prestigious German dance academy. Problem is, the place is run by a coven of witches that wish to use her for their own purposes.

This movie is interesting to say the least. Be warned; there are a few spoilers ahead.

“New imagining” is a very fitting term for this incarnation, given how drastically different it is from the first one. The major things they have in common are most of the character names and their basic roles in the story as well as the overall synopsis.

Amongst the biggest changes to the plotting are that the movie also follows the inner workings of the coven, which actively has Susie in their sights. There is also A LOT more focus on the dancing, as well as the addition of a doctor character (Tilda Swinton) investigating reports of what goes on in the academy.

The original is also a lot more simple and straightforward, with several people calling this newest incarnation pretentious (a charge I won’t dispute). This movie has a lot of symbolism and esoteric commentary that mostly went over my head. The remake also devotes significant screen time to the historical-political events occurring in Germany in 1977, such as an airline hijacking. These sections of the movie seemed unnecessary to the plot and mostly irrelevant in terms of theme.

This movie also delves more into mythology. The original “Suspiria” is the first installment (and the only one I’ve seen) of Argento’s “The Three Mothers” trilogy, and it hardly hints at any overarching mythology behind the coven. The basic premise of the three ancient witches that predate Christianity is all that is explained.

Despite my qualms, I did like the movie. I found it very engaging and captivating. The movie creates an atmosphere that is very unsettling and tense. The acting across the board is phenomenal. The highlights for me were an otherworldly climax and a Voodoo doll-esque sequence involving Susie contorting her body during a dance.

Overall, I would recommend this reimagining of Argento’s cult classic.

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