The Reel Review

C-

An American newcomer (Dakota Johnson) quickly rises to success at a German dance academy in 1977 Berlin as she and other students gradually learn it is a front for something sinister, in this film loosely adapted by director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name), from the 1977 original.

The first half of this extremely abstract supernatural horror sets an effectively jarring sense of dread as we see increasingly bizarre events unfold at the dance academy, made even more unsettling thanks to a chilling score from Radiohead’s Adam Yorke and Tilda Swinton as a wonderfully creepy dance instructor, Madame Blanc.  But then the story veers off into weirdsville with nonsensical flashbacks and sub-plots before arriving at its ultimate destination, a 20 minute long, WTF-filled, spree of gore. Guadagnino clearly intended for his film to be a symbolic treatise on motherhood, national guilt and evil, but it just comes off as a way too long, self-indulgent stupid mess.

REEL FACTS

• In addition to portraying dance instructor Madame Blanc, Tilda Swinton donned some serious prothetics to play two other roles in Suspiria – the male psychologist Dr. Josef Klemperer, and Madame Blanc’s Jabba The Hutt-looking rival, Helena Markos, seen in the big finale.

• The star of the 1977 Suspiria, Jessica Harper, has a small role in the film as Dr. Klemperer’s wife

• Unlike in the original 1977 film, which showcased an abundance of colors, this version is largely absent of any primary colors to set a creepier, bleak mood.

 

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