Director John Landis drew an intriguing comparison between Alfred Hitchcock and a director like Tobe Hooper and Wes Craven. His comparison was that when watching Psycho, the viewer could be assured that they were in the hands of a master, but that with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Last House on the Left, one was in the hands of a maniac. While I am yet to see Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977), my understanding is that it is a maniacal film. Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria shows little signs of a maniac, and sadly it also lacks mastery. Consisting of six acts with an epilogue, Suspiria 2018 follows the fortunes of Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson), as she joins an exclusive dance school in Berlin in 1977. After Susie’s acceptance into the school, things rapidly become weirder and weirder. This is the only rapid thing in this languorous and at times laboured psychological horror, that often squanders its effective style with painful (and sometimes painfully) prolonged sequences as well as heavy handed political commentary and a largely redundant parallel plot. The success of a film like this hinges on its creation of an unstable state of mind, enabling the viewer to become drawn into the demented state of the characters. While there are instances of craziness, often achieved through editing with a visceral kick, much of the film that is composed and ordered. This prevents the film from becoming truly disturbing, because there is a constant sense of control. Some of the narrative revelations may come as a surprise, but the languid pace robs the film of tension, and the escalations seem more logical than intensifying. While the performances are fine – especially Tilda Swinton in three roles – and the film is handsomely mounted, ultimately Suspiria is an artifact to be looked at rather than experienced, and as a result feels rather inert.
[…] horror offerings included the underwhelming The Little Stranger and the disappointing Suspiria (on which more later). Far more impressive was the surprisingly engrossing Overlord, that delivered […]