There is a life before death. There is a prologue in every book. Every story has its history. The good has always been stronger than evil. Every movie, once made, gets the second chance to celebrate its rebirth. Art is meant for interpretation; paintings are for telling stories. The story that people like yourself and I need to retell to the next generation. Luca Guadagnino makes a bold move by remaking Dario Argento’s “Suspiria”, about the dance academy for ladies that almost exists in its own universe. But don’t be mistaken if you think this version is what you have seen in the original, because it is not quite that. But he does keep the premise while everything else is a whole different nightmare no one would even like to see in a dream.
Set in 1970s and broken into six acts, the film takes us to West Berlin. The hostage situation outside of the Markos Dance Academy continues to escalate, while the tension in the same academy gets a drastic turn when an American girl from Ohio, Susie (Dakota Johnson), joins the school to replace Patricia (Chloe Grace Moretz), who mysteriously disappeared without trace. All goes according to plan for the big night that must serve two purposes – one to entertain the spectators, and the other one is meant for a dark power that is looking for the perfect individual that can help evil get a whole new look.
It all starts with the first victim, Patricia, who in a quite bizzare way tells a story to her psychiatrist about the dance academy that is controlled by a covey of witches. Dr. Klemperer did not believe her at first, but after her abrupt disappearance, he begins his own investigation. In the meantime, Susie becomes the perfect candidate as her replacement when Blanc (Tilda Swinton in a triple role) hears about the audition when she was at the floor below. Susie has no idea of what awaits her throughout her journey, especially the musical part she performs which, without her knowledge, kills one performer after another in a mind-blowing way.
“Suspiria” of the twenty first century is a completely different film but with the same premise. Towards the end, especially during the last act, Luca Guadagnino’s spectacular interpretation of the most important musical part will spin any head around. Everything about that piece is the reason this film must be seen no matter how vicious it may look. Indeed, the killing scenes, the colors, the outstanding cinematography, and the dance between evil and good turns into the main protagonist of the film, which unfortunately was not as great as you might expect due to the unnecessary storyline added in between.
That storyline is the sick woman or the psychiatrist who do not add much value to the film or to its logical conclusion, but serves a temporary purpose that quickly disappears after some time. Even though the background history of each character is important for the film to give the complete picture, we must admit mystery exists. After all, that’s why we have imagination, isn’t it?
To mention that Dakota Johnson or Tilda Swinton were brilliant in every scene will be an understatement as every single cast member you see throughout is like dark magic, scary, but still beautiful as never before. “Why people so eagerly think the worse is over?” Susie asks Blanc at some point, which is a fact for those who happen to be characters in the film but are yet to witness it, while you, my dear reader, will be fully aware that you’re not in the auditorium to see an average horror film, but rather to witness a piece that’s done tastefully to ensure you won’t ever forgive the journey you are about to make.
There’s a lot we can take away from “Suspiria”. Apart from being a distant version of the original piece, Luca Guadagnino does not hesitate to show the real face of reality, which is far from what we had seen back in the 70s. You see, there’s a time when we needed to believe that good can prevail over evil. It was necessary to give hope to people. But nowadays, there’s no need to keep us naïve and in the dark. Evil is always there with us. It has never left us. It has never been defeated. And if that is what we take from the film, the newer generation with their eyes wide open can confirm that. We need no fairytales. We need no happy endings. We need “Suspiria” to remind us that art is the most beautiful and creative thing we human beings are lucky enough to have. And in the right hands, it can translate into a hell of a ride.