Warning: do not rewatch Dario Argento’s Suspiria before going to see the remake or even consider viewing afterwards. Each are different enough such that in this updated take, there is more than meets the eye of the protagonist, Susie Bannion (sweetly played by Dakota Johnson) when she arrives in Germany, to learn how to dance at the Markos Dance Academy. This updated version hits home video January 29.
Little has changed narrative-wise. Johnson is beautiful and offers a different kind of gravitas for those wanting to hear comparisons. She lacks the doe-like appeal of the original protagonist and is more like a sex goddess waiting to vex many if they do not bow to her. Say what you will about redheads, but she’s an object of desire for more than one reason!
Key to the movie is the haunting backstory of The Three Mothers. They are ancient witches and perhaps rivals to Lilith from the Jewish tradition. As the one who rules the Markos Dance Academy attempts to seduce Susie in her dreams to become her new vassel, I was hoping for enough changes so I do not know what’s to come next! The way this film moves reminded me of H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch-House and the only connection here is with the strange visitors arriving when students are asleep.
Tilda Swinton’s commitment to this film deserves special praise. She played three roles–dean of the academy, Madame Blanc, inquiring psychiatrist Dr. Josef Klemperer and the mysterious matriarch Helena Markos. Beneath all that makeup, I found her amazing. Of the three, Klemperer’s narrative was the easiest to follow and Lovecraftian in tone. His perspective gives the film a sense of mystery as he prowls about, looking to unveil the horror lurking within the school. The journals about the Witch Hunt from long ago and their origins give this work a sense of dread.
Whether more films will be made depends on Amazon Studios’ willingness to help realize all three films in a reasonable amount of time. Argento’s work took 30 years to complete. Let’s hope this modern version by writer David Kajganich and director Luca Guadagnino does not take as long. The stronger mythology has me interested, and I would gladly see a prequel over sequels in this update instead.
Check out episode 99 of the Drunk in a Graveyard podcast where Scotty and Robin talk Suspiria.
You can find Ed on twitter looking for spooky things in all the spooky places.