06th Nov2018

LIFF 2018: ‘Suspiria’ Review (2018)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Choe Grace Moretz, Doris Hick, Malgorzata Bela, Angela Winkler, Vanda Capriolo, Alex Wek, Elena Fokina | Written by David Kajganich | Directed by Luca Guadagnino

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Young American dancer Susie Bannion arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Co. When she vaults to the role of lead dancer, the woman she replaces breaks down and accuses the company’s female directors of witchcraft. Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist and a member of the troupe uncover dark and sinister secrets as they probe the depths of the studio’s hidden underground chambers.

To even dare to explain Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria would be a tragedy in itself, not because it would necessarily reduce the content or spoil your experience, but for anyone to actually have a fully compelling and articulated retort to the artistic impression on screen would be lying through their front teeth.

The heart and soul of Suspiria is the outrageously effective and haunting mysticism that surrounds it. Gone are the neon lighting and late 70′s bravado of Argento’s original and now present in 2018 is a tactile, nightmarish horror that finds tranquillity in the spiritualistic rendition of bloodshed and terror.

The stylistic auteurism that Guadagnino brings is spellbinding to behold. The restraint he showcases in the pacing and the energy that is kept robust and active throughout. Creating a powerful atmosphere which is incredibly profound and compelling, especially considering the outrageous running time at a stunning 152 minutes, which is superbly split up Tarantino style into six acts and an epilogue. The result is a swift and concise film that revels in the enigmatic nature of the unknown and torment of suspense and mystery. Propelled forward by suitably abstract and vivid performances from the all-star cast.

Most notably that of Tilda Swinton who once again perfectly exentuates all that her character is defined as from script to screen. Her screen presence is second to none. Lighting up the screen with a gloomy eccentric power, albeit romantically centred on her prize possession. Dakota Johnson impresses with a very tricky and complex role in terms of physicality, taking two years to prepare and train herself in the form of dance for the role and she’s perfect with terrific screen presence and form. A performance that fights itself internally (contextually so) on the psychological parameters of the story. Not necessarily playing the damsel in distress but evoking a sense of mystery herself.

Suspiria screened at the Leeds International Film Festival on November 3rd 2018.

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