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When I first heard that there was going to be a remake of one of my favourite horrors ever, Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento), I was quite skeptical and apprehensive. However, after hearing more and more about it and seeing the trailer, I gradually became more intrigued. I soon decided that it's at least worth giving a chance and I am certainly glad that I gave it a chance.
What I found was a unique re-imagining, a surprisingly well made production from the up and coming production company Amazon Studio's. It is a film that completely stands apart from the original but does not besmirch it's name. In fact I would say it potentially enhances it. It is rather an artistic, psychological thriller then a full scale horror film but this does not affect the immense potency of the story or the power of its imagery.
In this version of the story, we find ourselves set against the backdrop of the Red Army Faction terrorist attacks that occurred in Berlin during the 70's. Our main character, Susie Bannion, played by Dakota Johnson, enrolls in a infamous Berlin dance academy and immediately impresses her tutors but things are not what they seem. It soon becomes apparent that dark secrets lie within this academy. Secrets of the sinister and the occult.
Now, though the director has his own independent interpretation of Argento's story, it comes across in the film that there is great admiration for the original. In fact some aspects of the films lighting and visual style definitely seem to homage Argento's famous visual style. The film also hosts a number of brilliant performances, including a cameo appearance from Jessica Harper, who played Susie Bannion in the original 1977 film.
Also well done, is a number of gruesome scenes but done tastefully in a way that they enhance the disturbing atmosphere of the film as a whole. As it did also for my fellow audience members. I definitely heard a few gasps when they appeared on screen. Further demonstrating the scenes effectiveness.
Now gore of course is not the most crucial element for a film of this genre, in fact gore can sometimes be a films downfall. Though if it's done right, tastefully and to a minimal point but using well thought out cinematography to exploit every moment of it, it can be highly effective. Which is very much the case with this film.
However, the film is admittedly not without flaws. Some segments did seem out of place, why exactly I can't put my finger on. Perhaps because they seemed too farfetched or the soundtrack didn't evoke the atmosphere as well as it could. In fact the soundtrack I absolutely feel could have been better and in my opinion didn't surpass Goblins original chilling soundtrack. It is admittedly still a well composed soundtrack and on some occasions did work but I personally felt it could have been so much more.
Also the twist, while a clever one, did come across as not very clear. It and some other elements of the story seemed not to fit into place. The reveal is clearly hinted very subtly throughout the film but it still feels as if it was too sudden to unveil it. I think to fully appreciate it I will have to give it a second viewing. The ending also did seem a bit too over the top but still maintained the disturbing aesthetic kept consistently flowing throughout the film.
Despite these flaws, they do not ruin the films integrity and can be easily forgiven, due to the highly visual nightmare that burrows into the audiences minds. Though it has a few faults, it remains a creative and intensely disturbing film. Combined with the surreal and highly artistic, borderline erotic visuals and feministic themes, it creates a beautiful nightmare. One that both excites, terrifies and arouses the soul. Very similar to Argento's original film in fact, the style is of course very different but the themes still echo loudly.
Does it hold a candle to the original? Yes and no. Both films uniquely stand alone as their own individual visions. Neither conflicting with each other but both complimenting the other. I found it a truly thought provoking experience, making me unquestionably want to watch it again, to pick up on anything I may have missed. The film will likely not be for everyone, I myself certainly did like it and I know a number of people who would as well but it will not be to everyone's tastes. Either way, I believe this film is still without a doubt worth seeing and I firmly believe that it can be loved by both fans of the original and by those un-initiated to Argento's masterpiece.
It is a nightmare, worth having.