Watch: The Cast and Crew of 'Suspiria' Reveal the Secrets of Their Intense Horror Film
Luca Guadagnino's 'Suspiria' is more emotional and scary (and emotionally scary) than you might originally realize.
A literal interpretation of a nightmare, Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria is less a remake than a distant cousin to Dario Argento's 1977 giallo classic of the same name. Sharing welcomed similarities in plot and grotesqueness, Guadagnino's period piece deviates from its predecessor in location, backstory, length, and philosophy.
The story of an American Mennonite who attends a prestigious dance academy in Berlin only to find it run by a devious coven of witches, Guadagnino's Brechtian—the story plays out over six acts and an epilogue—depiction of a country in turmoil is an exacting approach to pulpy material. Young women suffering from adverse reactions to their instructors' witchcraft consult Dr. Josef Klemperer, an elderly gentleman who specializes in mental health. When students go missing, their disappearance is credited to a presumed participation in the Red Army Faction (RAF). The witches hold democratic meetings in which a vote is conducted to select the next evil headmistress. Say what you wish about the far-fetchedness of the story, but the film is determined to prop up its creepy plausibility.
In its story beats and careful plotting, the film feels like Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.
If the original Suspiria was considered too opaque for viewers pressed for an explanation of the story's fantastical elements, this new interpretation is a more formal slow-burn. As film critic J. Hoberman wrote some years ago in The Village Voice, the 1977 edition was a movie that "makes sense only to the eye (and even then . . .)." Guadagnino's take is more lived in, as if knowing that the psychology of horror movies has a direct relationship with the horrors of the mind.
In its story beats and careful plotting, the film feels like Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, a film that also incorporated "cabin fever" into the explanation as to why we all go a little mad sometimes. The character of Dr. Josef Klemperer resembles a red herring....until he doesn't, and the casting of Tilda Swinton (in one of her two roles) is indebted to Freud's belief in the uncanny, another nod to Kubrick's 1980 haunted hotel yarn. Klemperer provides the emotional backbone here, providing the film with an unexpected, almost cruel emotional pull by film's end.
For every physical act of contortion depicted in Guadagnino's Suspiria—and boy are there a doozy—the film answers with an emotional one, culminating in a statement on lost loves and children's resentment toward their parents. Whether a den mother or a paternal one, the domesticity of horror is alive and well in Suspiria.
As Suspiria gets set to open in theaters in two weeks on October 26th, we're sharing the below video of the cast and crew discussing the film after its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival last month.
Are you looking forward to catching this new interpretation of Suspiria? Are you a fan of the Dario Argento original? Let us know in the comments below.