Suspiria18¶ Blu-ray, DVD
It’s difficult for any horror film to look fresh after a period of time. Technology moves so fast that what was cutting edge five years ago looks old hat in the here and now. Even true classics can look a tad passť.
It takes a very special film however, to look extremely dated on its release.
The fact that Susie (Dakota Johnson) has travelled halfway across the world – from the US to Germany – shows just how dedicated she is to her art. She’s an aspiring dancer, and she’s auditioning to get into Berlin’s prestigious Markos dance academy.
After lead choreographer Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) catches her audition, she immediately notices her potential and enrols her. Which is just as well, as they recently had young dancer Patricia (Chloť Grace Moretz) mysteriously disappear, never to return, so a spot is now conveniently available.
Susie soon makes a mark as an exceptional dancer, catching everyone’s eye, although in some cases, it’s not necessarily her dancing abilities that intrigues them.
Meanwhile, psychotherapist Dr Klemperer (Swinton) is processing some material that Patricia passed onto him, making claims that the school may not be everything that it seems, with evidence of witchcraft afoot.
Having directed the Oscar-winning Call Me by Your Name, you would have thought that Luca Guadagnini would have been a safe pair of hands to work on this remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic of the same name. But no.
This is a severely bloated, self indulgent project that only has one obvious horror element to it, and that is some truly horrific acting. It would have been passable if it were an all-amateur production, put on in a local hall somewhere, but the fact there is so-called professional talent involved – namely the extremely poor Johnson – must surely put a question mark over Guadagnini’s ability to direct.
And then there’s the look to the film. You can appreciate the set design, set as the film is in a 1977 Germany, but Guadagnini lays on way too thickly his homage to seventies horror titles, with his camera work with sudden movements, editing techniques and use of sound; the result has the distinct impression of being shot through a standard seventies horror film filter on a camera phone for the appropriate effect, without any sign of flair or personality. He should have stuck it on the dog face mode, at least it would have been more entertaining. If you want a version of Suspiria that delivers the charming conventions of classic horror, then the original would be the obvious recommendation.
To add to the misery, there is just so much padding, none of which justifies its two and half hour running time. Never has a film in recent memory outstayed its welcome on screen.
And what there is of a story, stretched out as it is to such a flimsy extent, struggles to muster anything remotely suspenseful. And there’s only one thing that can make a horror film that’s not in the slightest bit horrifying even worse – dance segments.
After almost two hours of filling time with the dullest storyline, the film attempts a big reveal, that is neither big, nor that revealing.
The film’s one redeeming feature is a fairly pleasing soundtrack supplied by the Radioheady Thom Yorke, that gives the piece some necessary texture.
Some may argue that it’s an artistic rendering of a classic film, but considering how wholly generic and limp the film feels, that’s an argument that really doesn’t have a leg to limp on.
This version is truly stale and completely redundant, that unlike classic horror films, will only get worse with the passing of time and age horribly.