To recall everything I loved from the Dario Argento’s Suspiria ruined my expectations when I saw the remake by writer David Kajganich and director Luca Guadagnino. They tried very hard to condense key points from Argento’s trilogy into one product, and the result is a very bloated film. The update of the mythology was good, but to toss in the extra subplots to make it relevant in a historical context made the runtime longer than it should have been. The fact the screenplay divides the movie into five parts is the first failing. Traditionally, cinematic narratives are fashioned into three to stay simple. With the home video release coming in January, hitting the pause button will be very welcomed!
As the back history about the Three Mothers (key to the original trilogy of films) is pivotal to the narrative, I sometimes wonder if Susie Bannion (sweetly played by Dakota Johnson), the protagonist, is going to survive–if she does at all. Perhaps with watching this film again with bathroom breaks can help me follow this work better. The world is under consideration moreso than the microcosm of the school to which Bannion is now part of. She is getting along with fellow classmates, but her instructors have something else in mind.
They are attempting to discipline Susie in her dreams so she can be the new vassal. The source material can only provide so much, and I wished there were signs of a past German film, The Cabinet of Caligari (1920) imbued into this work. This classic helped define a new wave of horror (German Expressionism) to later influence Universal’s Monsters–to later emerge out of America. Because this lead character is suffering from nightmares, I hoped making her a sleepwalker (who can beautifully dance) can be just as effective.
Alternatively, I found myself attracted to Klemperer’s narrative since it was easier to follow. His perspective gives the work a sense of mystery as he discovers the horror said to be buried within the school. Had his detective work been furthered as the key point of view, this movie might have stood out instead of copying the original. When considering Tilda Swinton played this character in addition to headmaster of the school Madame Blanc and the mysterious matriarch Helena Markos, I was certainly impressed.
This remake at least offers one change. When Bannion said she has come home, and will be the new protector, I was reminded of The Haunting (1999), a cinematic adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House. Whether more films will be made depends on Amazon Studios’ willingness to help realize Guadagnino’s vision within a reasonable amount of time than in what Argento did–his work took thirty years to bring his trilogy to an end.