Suspiria – Good, Bad & Ugly Review

A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up. – (Source)

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61% (Critics) / 73% (Audience)
MetaScore: 64 – Generally favorable reviews
Directed By: Luca Guadagnino
Written By: David Kajganich
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Chloë Grace Moretz
Studio: Amazon Studios

The Good:
The Olga scene early on in the film is one of the most effectively horrific scenes I have seen in a horror film in years. It did all the things a horror movie should do: created unease in me as a viewer, made me feel sympathy for the poor unfortunate soul suffering and set the stage for me to eagerly anticipate what would be coming next.

As for the overall film, SUSPIRIA is a beautifully shot film with director Luca Guadagnino eschewing the easy trap he could have fallen into of completely aping Dario Argento‘s style from the 1977 SUSPIRIA but also making sure to keep the spirit of Argento’s original in every frame that was shot. And through Guadagnino’s direction the film maintained a very eerie sense of unsettling throughout the majority of the film. The dance choreography was also amazing. Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet did a wonderful job putting together the intricate dances that were as much a part of setting the mood in certain scenes as the cinematography and music.

The acting was all top notch with Tilda Swinton pulling double duty and not letting either performance suffer in any way. Dakota Johnson also more than held her own with Swinton and the other veteran actresses who made up the coven of witches at the dance studio.

And a whole lot of praise needs to go to the soundtrack and score from Thom Yorke. He managed to find the perfect music to either compliment the mood of a scene or set the mood itself. Just for “Suspirium” alone I would have purchased the entire movie soundtrack…that song is hauntingly beautiful.

The Bad:
As much as I enjoyed the vibe of the movie I do have to admit that for a good chunk of the running time not a lot was actually happening. And about that running time…chopping off about 45 minutes would not have been the worst idea in the world.

While Dakota Johnson did a good job in the role of wide-eyed Midwestern dance prodigy Susie Bannion, the attempts to establish a back story for the character seemed to be shoehorned into the movie and didn’t work nearly as much as the writer obviously wanted it to. Not showing one second of Susie’s past wouldn’t have done much to undercut the evolution of the character of the big moment that we got from her in the finale.

Speaking of the finales: that really ended up being the biggest misstep in the entire movie. To turn the film into a cacophony of over-the-top bloody gore that seemed to be done just to provide some blood soaked shocks to the audience ended up not being all that shocking. Instead it was just something I desperately wanted to end as quickly as possible.

The Ugly:
I can’t believe I waited through the entire running of the credits just to watch someone wipe down the movie screen.

Final Verdict: A well made, well acted film that maintained an efficiently creepy and tense vibe for a good portion of its (too long) running time but fell apart completely by the time we got to the obnoxiously indulgent assault on the senses that was the final act.

Grade: B-

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