Suspiria – Fantastic Fest Review

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So I got to see the secret screening at this year’s Fantastic Fest which turned out to be Luca Guadagnnio’s remake of Suspiria. Let me just put this upfront. I am not a fan of the original film or Argento films in general. Just not my thing. So I was surprised how much of Suspiria I actually enjoyed.

The story is based in enough of a reality and not so abstract that you can’t follow what is happening. The visuals are vivid and a pleasure to behold. There is a particular sequence in here that can only be described as Cronenburg-like interpretive dance sequence that is as excruciating as it is compelling.

Unfortunately, out of the six (that’s right, six) acts of this film, we are only treated to something this compelling every two acts. The rest of this film is padded with characters slowly learning more about their mysterious dance company and having increasingly vague and foreboding dialogue. For two and a half hours!

So another disclaimer for how I tend to watch films. At about 90 minutes, I start to play film editor in my head and take stock of what scenes could be trimmed to make a story tighter. I was also sitting in a folding chair for the duration of the film, so at 2 hours I was already fidgeting and by two and a half I was downright miserable.

There is also another glaring problem in Dakota Johnson. I am not sure if it is her acting or a directing choice to make her a blank slate, cipher character but she is not on the same level as the likes of Tilda Swinton who is killing it as usual. Johnson leaves so little impact that every time she enters a scene I legitimately thought they were introducing a new character before I remembered I have already been watching this character for an hour.

Again, this style of film is not my particular cup of tea and I saw it under less than ideal circumstances, however I did find myself enjoying the atmosphere and the visual experience even when I wasn’t fully engaged in the story. I ultimately found it to be a mixed bag and only recommend it to those don’t mind their stories on the abstract side.