I’ve only seen the original Suspiria by Dario Argento once, so I’m a bad horror fan. Therefore, I don’t have any attachment to it and the remake is fine, but it’s way too long.
Adding 45 minutes to the adaptation doesn’t improve it, especially in the protracted epilogue. The most egregious addition is a Holocaust subplot that may be poignant, but it is entirely extraneous.
Susie (Dakota Johnson) attends a prestigious Berlin ballet company whose teachers are actually witches. No one knows what happened to Patricia (Chloe Grace Moretz) who was seeing Dr. Klemperer (Lutz Ebersdorf) for delusions.
The way director Luca Guadagnino and cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom use zooms and jarring edits feels like Italian horror. The subtitles with white letters and red shadows for when characters speak German is a nice touch of atmosphere.
There looks like a lot of full body prosthetics, although I’m sure many of them are digitally enhanced. Then there are some obviously digital gore effects, but it is a graphic Fangoria friendly horror film with a literal blood bath finale.
Dr. Klemperer is the Holocaust subplot as he’s searching for his wife who went missing. Surely many German Jews or 20th century Jews anywhere can relate, but Guadagnino and screenwriter David Kajganich fail to connect it to the main plot.
There is also a minor theme of Dr. Klemperer not believing women, diagnosing them as delusional rather than considering they’re telling the truth. But I’ve already discussed Dr. Klemperer more than the film gives him enough significance to be worth bloating the runtime to 150 minutes.
There’s also a legit dance school drama where Suzie tries to measure up. Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) is a firm but constructive teacher who believes in her. And sometimes her choreography makes other students contort to death.
You know, there may have been a good modern take on Suspiria with a running time comparable to the original. Someday someone might edit that out of this remake, but I can’t recommend it at two and a half hours.
Suspiria is now playing in limited release. It opens wide November 2.