BY CHARLIE PINGEL
Around once a year, a film is released that is best summed up by one word. Some films are so amazing, so perfectly constructed that it’s the first word that comes to your mouth when the credits roll and the lights come up. It is a word that should not be used lightly, but only when it truly applies. With his latest craft, Suspiria, director Luca Guadagnino has created something so singular and unmatched within the horror genre that it can only be described by that single word: masterpiece.
A remake of the 1977 giallo film of the same name, Suspiria follows Susie, played by Dakota Johnson, an aspiring young dancer auditioning to be accepted into a prestigious Berlin dance studio. From the moment Susie enters the school, she begins to experience mysterious happenings that lead her to believe the school is run by a coven of witches. From weird dreams to dead classmates, suspicion slowly builds, both inside the school and out, culminating in a finale so original and so unexpected it will leave even the most seasoned viewers stunned where they sit.
Again, we find ourselves faced with a film that is dubbed a remake. And again, the film transcends that label to become something wholly its own. Yet, where A Star is Born pulled something from each of its predecessors to create the final and definitive rendering of the pedigree, Suspiria does the complete opposite. Having only pulled the names and basic plot structure from Dario Argento’s ‘77 masterwork, Guadagnino has made his own singular, six-act swan song that stands alone from its source. Gaining an hour on the original, it buckles down the viewer in a wholly original world of Cold War conflict and bewitchingly intense dance sequences that build towards something completely unforgettable. Guadagnino has reinvented the giallo genre as it originally stood, doing away with the slasher derivation of its original connotation in favor of something much more fit for the arthouse circuit.
And that would really be my biggest warning to most viewers. Never has a horror film been this outstanding arthouse within the mainstream. It is essential for one to understand before going in that Suspiria is basically a foreign film. While foreign languages do make up half the script, that is not why I would consider it such. Simply from a stylistic and structural perspective, this film feels even more foreign to American cinemas than its actually foreign-produced predecessor. The film is sure to polarize and alienate audiences indefinitely, but for those who can sit down and see past Hollywood horror archetypes, it is an extremely rewarding experience that may never be topped.
This is a film. As pretentious as that sounds, it’s true. What Luca Guadagnino has created here is something that warrants emulation, it is what a film should be. From the performances (Tilda Swinton plays three separate characters) to Thom Yorke’s haunting score to the cinematography that will make your eyes bleed, everything is so meticulously pieced together here that to pull out and inspect each little ingredient would be a disservice to the synergistic whole that comes to represent something greater than its individual components. Suspiria is the best film of 2018, a masterpiece that immediately cements its place in both the mind of the viewer and the highest echelon of horror history. 10/10