My. Fucking. God…
Where do I even begin? What an absolutely stunning movie! Everything from the dance choreography to the setting, to the story. There was only a solitary moment that was out of place and I’m really pulling hairs to be critical of even that!
Of course the whole point of doing a review on this remake was to see if it held up to the original, and holy fuck it surpasses it! I can seriously only complain about a few CGI moments that murdered the feeling for a hot second. I find it almost criminal that they chose CGI for those scenes rather than practical FX. But my fucking god, this movie was brilliant! Like Doctor Sleep, I could spend years peeling back the layers, and devote entire reviews to singular pieces, such as the setting, the mythos, and the characters.
Jesus fucking Christ, just the dancing, in of itself, could take up a whole review. I was informed by my wife (a former professional dancer) that the style of dance is very ‘Martha Graham’ and she explained to me that the presentation is integral to the setting. Not just the setting for the movie, but even post war Germany, after the Iron Curtain slammed shut and West was separated from East. She explained that Graham’s style was sharp, direct, purposeful, and deep in angle. The juxtaposition in the style of dance, the movie, and post war Germany were intended to make a statement. Something Madam Blanc speaks of during one of the first dance scenes and references again later when she informs the lead actress, that dance can no longer be beautiful and carefree. Graham’s influence is later confirmed in the movie.
Immediately, the first thing I was struck by was the disembodied voices of the actors, almost as if they were being dubbed, just like Suspiria (1977). Later this is even used as an effect, just like the original. Eventually, there’s an entire scene devoted to Madam Blanc (Tilda Swinton) and Susie (Dakota Johnson) speaking telepathically, to give deeper purpose to the disembodied voices.
There were actually tons of little head nods to Argento’s Suspiria. Including the order in which character’s die (though some of the names are changed). There’s the fact that the female lead discovers the secret sanctum of Mother Suspiria the same way as Argento’s original. And lets not forget the setting of this movie takes place in 1977, the release date of the original.
And like the original, there is a lot about this movie that is revolutionary. Every central roll is played by a woman. I got a kick out of the fact that Tilda Swinton played the roles of Mother Markos, Madam Blanc, and Doctor Klemperer. These are, three very different characters with very singular motivations, which only highlights Swinton’s capacity as an actress.
So yeah, the acting was fantastic. The setting and atmosphere were amazing. The plot was deep and layered. Really, the writing was incredible. But most importantly, the dancing was just fucking otherworldly. It’s important to note, the only times this movie gets psychedelic like the original, is during dance scenes. Impressively, there were even a few scenes which managed to make me cringe, and that is no small feat.
Yes, this movie is better than the original. Yes, this movie is a must watch. Yes, this movie is going on my ‘All time top‘ list. Yes, it will be dethroning Doctor Sleep‘s very short stay at #4. I am VERY fucking close to splitting the inseparable John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) at #2 and The Thing (2011) at #3. This movie is so close to taking the #3 spot it’s literally coming down to my personal preference. 2010 to 2019 has been a hell of a decade.
Do, watch Suspiria (2019)!
Don’t piss off Mother Suspiriorum. At the beginning of this movie, you can hear some sort of vote though it’s not made entirely clear what the purpose of this is. Most vote for Markos, while a few vote for Blanc. This apparently has something to do with a sort of power struggle in the coven. Mother Markos is responsible, in many respects, for the success of the school of dance, and there appears to be almost a mutiny lead by Madam Blanc. I think this has something to do with a failed spell that killed a student in an attempt to give Markos a new body.
Markos, you later find, is living a decrepit half life, leaching off the bodies of students to sustain her. This is much the same as Argento’s Suspiria (1977). The difference being, that Susie seems to embrace the bewitching call of Mother Markos, where in the original, she rejected it. This seems to unsettle Madam Blank, though she still follows her devotions and continues with the ritual.
Things part further from the original story when Madam Blanc falls in love with Susie and in the end suggests that she doesn’t have to satisfy Mother Markos’ desire. This upsets Mother Markos who promptly appears to kill Madam Blanc, nearly decapitating her, though later you discover she somehow managed to survive.
Enter Mother Suspiriorum. As it turns out, Susie is the reincarnation of Mother Suspiriorum, who then summons death to kill anyone that voted against Madam Blanc at the beginning of the movie. This was all a test to see of Mother Markos would continue to defile her coven with her own selfish desires, punishing her and anyone who sided with her in her pursuit to take a new body. The end is quite gruesome, as death marches from traitor to traitor and blows up their fucking heads.
At the end, there’s even a little post credit scene, with Susie, now Mother Suspiriorum, cursing the Berlin Wall, harking its collapse. I’d like to share a personal note about this. When I was in first grade, they suspended class and gathered the students so we could all watch the live broadcast of the fall of the Berlin wall. I remember watching separated families gather for the first time, some after having been separated for several decades. I remember a woman who looked like she was in her bloody 90’s, wailing on the wall with a pickax. It’s one of the most moving memories of my life.
This movie will be timeless. 20 years from now, we’ll be looking back, still in awe of it, and I beg of you to give it a shot!
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