Suspiria is a bit of a long ride but the tension leads to fantastically bloody and insane ending.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Summary: A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.
There has never been a better time to be a pretentious horror fan, and that is a good thing. The indie horror genre has been bursting onto the mainstream in recent years with movies like A Quiet Place, Hereditary, and more scaring the pants off of audiences. Suspiria isn’t quite on the same level as those movies in that it isn’t so much terrifying as it makes you uncomfortable.
There are large portions of this production during which we are watching the antics of a dance school, and there is very little in the way of horror outside of the mounting tension that something here is wrong and everyone might be insane. In fact, nothing horrific happens for a good portion of the movie, save for a scene near the end of the first act that will have everyone talking for weeks.
The movie almost seems to be saying that it is too artsy to be scary, then goes off the deep end by the third act — but it takes too long getting there. You feel every second of the two hour and thirty-two minute run time. That said, this slow burn also feels extremely intentional, which helps when things go completely off the walls in that third act.
For fans of horror, there aren’t many scares in this horror movie. It’s more about the atmosphere and imagery, which aside from those set pieces, are dreams and visions. It doesn’t make the movie any less creepy, but it does make the marketing ring a little untrue.
Those looking for deeper meaning need only look to the line ““Mercy? Why should we have mercy on you? Women tell you the truth and you tell them they’re delusional!” I won’t reveal the context of this quote, it’s a bit of a spoiler, but the movie very much plays with the idea of hysterical women and how women are often labeled as “crazy”. In this case, the audience knows the insanity is very real, and we spend the entire production watching the characters come to terms with it.
The characters are the interesting part of the film. We can finally say that the Fifty Shades movies were not Dakota Johnson’s fault. She is great here as the innocent American dancer looking to make her place at this dance school. Tilda Swinton is her most Tilda Swinton in the duel roles she plays as Madame Blanc and under heavy make-up as Dr. Josef Klemperer. It says a lot that the lone male in this movie is actually played by a woman. The standout is likely Mia Goth as Sara, whose decent into madness is fascinating to watch play out.
Suspiria is going to be a divisive movie, with some wondering what the big deal is and others wondering why those people don’t get it. It’s a horror movie that often thinks it’s too artsy to be genuinely scary, and mystery which is solved pretty early on, but journey from beginning to end is where the fun lies.
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