Home » Suspiria review – A Masterful, Maddening Bone-chilling Vision | London Film Festival 2018

Suspiria review – A Masterful, Maddening Bone-chilling Vision | London Film Festival 2018

by Ben Rolph

The new film from Luca Guadagnino is nothing short of a masterpiece, coming off ‘Call Me By Your Name’ he has returned with a bone-chilling film tapping into your very core, Guadagnino like Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) transmits his work through a visionary eye with heavy symbolism littered throughout. A deeper subtext of post-war Germany can be seen along with the supernatural details which are conveyed throughout the film. 


A retelling of Dario Argento’s original film based upon a novel, this adaptation is not a remake but a retelling as it uses the basis but excels it far beyond. Set in divided Berlin, we follow Susie (Dakota Johnson) a new student at the world-renowned Markos dance company among dozens of other pupils and teachers down a twisted tale into darkness. Ever since Susie was little signs drew her towards Berlin and Madame Blanc and as she auditions for a role in the company, she peaks Blanc’s interest. 

But there is also the character of Dr Jozef Klemperer, a psychoanalyst who’d been seeing Patricia (Chloë Moretz Grace) and with her disappearance an investigation begins, but there is greater mystery surrounding the group of women than can be fathomed with Susie becoming a star pupil, Sara (Mia Goth) questioning the growing connection between Madame Blanc and Susie.


Suspiria is a complex and intoxicating film, with the dance aspect ripping into the soul of the spectator with grating sound design, using the breathing of the pupils as they dance to create a stabbing-like sound as they rip through the air in their own unique and some-what demonic dance style. The cinematography of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is remarkable capturing the dance in a transformative way to transport us into feeling as if we are gliding with every move, using pans, zooms and long-takes to incredible effect. Also, Thom Yorke delivers us with a ghostly soundtrack, which only adds to the editing, cinematography and story. Guadagnino uses sound in such a way that will send surges of shivers up your body, without a doubt. 

Three mothers, three gods, three devils. The concept and story portrayed is of extreme detail and symbolism – Guadagnino implants ideas of death and fate among others, cutting away to key symbols at vital moments. The ending of the film is a masterpiece on its own, but the twist is bone-chilling with the subtly of using flashbacks and the over-saturated reds in homage to the original, creating a link between the past and present, using flashbacks of Susan’s mother dying in her bed visited by her very own grim reaper. This creates shock in a spine-bending sequence. 


The performances are devilishly good – Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton and Mia Goth among the ensemble cast partake in creating a tense psychological atmosphere ripping you apart in excruciating fashion. The older women are wonderfully twisted, like witches? This pays homage to Macbeth and Rosemary’s Baby.

Among the many elements of film form that have been masterly executed, the editing plays a huge part in creating the chilling moments – dotted throughout the film, there are montages spliced together cutting in and out of audio, edited in such a sporadic way – surges of sheer horror rush down your body. Additionally, the cutting in the dance sequences with the dancers dancing and the parallel moments create a depth in the spectator’s mind as they spectate in horror over the guilt of not being able to help. This link in the concept of how the dancing works in Suspiria from person to person transmitting a connection creates an ongoing tension every time a performance or rehearsal is seen.  


The film is longish, but it never bores – you will be left rendered questioning and shivering, kneeling before Guadagnino’s Suspiria with its horrifying concept, eerie atmosphere and it’s pitch perfect precision in every single shot.

5/5 Stars

Ben Rolph

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