Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 188 – SUSPIRIA (2018)

With the state of horror being what it is in 2018 it feels like half of the movies that are released can be described as “divisive”, especially when it comes to remakes. Here we are again, about to discuss another film that will surely split the horror community right down that center. That’s right, fuckos! This week we’re discussing Luca Guadagnino’s newly released reimagining of Suspiria. (Review starts at 22:30) How does Thom Yorke’s score hold up to the Goblin original? Does it suffer from not having the bright, enchanting colors of the original? Does the extra 60 minute run time add anything at all to the film? Only one way to find out, huh? Well, technically there’s plenty of ways, but you get the idea.

In addition to what is sure to be highly intellectual, well thought out analysis of Suspiria, Rhett walks us through his recent rewatch of the Friday the 13th franchise, and Matt politely explains to him why his favorite in the series is the wrong choice. There can be only one.

Gobble, Gobble, Motherfucker! It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 188!

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[Review] ‘Bloody Ballet’ Is a Creatively Misguided Mess

From Suspiria to Black Swan, it seems that filmmakers have always been fascinated with the darker side of ballet. It makes sense, considering all the hardcore training and painful conditioning that goes on behind a facade of traditionally feminine beauty and dreamlike grace, but this age-old dichotomy has provided us with several great horror stories in the past. With that in mind, director and co-writer Brett Mullen aims to use this art-form as a jumping-off point for his own Giallo-inspired thriller, Bloody Ballet.

Bloody Ballet stars Kendra Carelli as Adriana Mena, an up-and-coming dancer who’s just landed the coveted lead role in a new rendition of The Nutcracker. However, Adriana’s inner demons begin to spoil the excitement as she’s plagued by terrible visions, all the while her friends and rivals are being stalked and murdered by a mysterious masked figure. Madness, jealousy and the supernatural intertwine as these ballerinas face their most dangerous performance yet.

At first glance, the plot sounds like a straightforward homage to the work of masters like Dario Argento, but as the film goes on things start to get shaky, as the creative cinematography and kickass (albeit misused) soundtrack can’t quite make up for a frustratingly obtuse narrative. Mullen seems to have all the ingredients ready for an entertaining psychological thriller, but the shoddy execution makes the film feel like less than the sum of its parts.

Carelli delivers a compelling performance as a tortured but talented dancer, but it’s too bad that the script doesn’t do her character justice. The story rushes through several conflicting personality traits and uses them as plot devices rather than allowing the movie to work as a character study. This disregard for the more human side of things is almost justified by the quality of the kills and gore effects, but it ultimately makes the film ring hollow.

It’s possible that the filmmakers thought so as well, as they attempted to spice things up with dreamlike storytelling, erratic editing and a slightly obnoxious (though consistently entertaining) soundtrack. Individually, all these things seem like great ideas, injecting energy and creativity into an otherwise dull experience, but the overuse of these elements just ends up confusing the viewer.

While Bloody Ballet does boast some legitimately thrilling sequences, there are also quite a few extraneous plot threads that should have been cut in order to streamline the experience. At times, it feels like there are several smaller films edited in-between scenes here, and they don’t all add up by the end. The final twist is also poorly executed, explained through a condescending voice-over that really hurts the entire film.

Bloody Ballet may not be an outright awful film, but it does feel rather underwhelming when you consider its cinematic inspirations. While there are several instances of genuine creativity in most areas of the production, none of these can quite make up for the film’s narrative shortcomings. At its best, the movie is a flawed yet entertaining dreamlike romp, but at its worst, everything feels like a derivative mess with pretentious overtones. At the end of the day, you have better options if you feel like watching some Giallo-inspired ballet horror.

Bloody Ballet will be available on VOD November 13th.

FILM REVIEW: SUSPIRIA

Reviewing this film has been quite the challenge.  Even as I was jotting down notes during the screening I attended, I found myself having to catch myself and scribble out my words. Why? because I am reviewing SUSPIRIA 2018. I am not reviewing SUSPIRIA 1977. I am not doing a comparison of the two either. I am not writing about the film as a fan, I am writing about it as a reviewer for you beauties and for those who are completely unfamiliar with the original. I approached this as if I had my memory erased by that little device from MEN IN BLACK, except without the aid of the actual tool itself. With that in mind, let’s talk about SUSPIRIA.

Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson), a Mennonite and dancer from Ohio,  has arrived in Berlin to audition for the Markos Dance Company. The elite company is housed in a very stark and slightly run down looking mansion which not only houses the dance school but its dancers as well.  Susies audition goes well. Very well. So well in fact that she lands the lead in Madame Blanc’s (played by Tilda Swinton) dance masterpiece “Volk”.  This is where the discourse begins as she starts getting an inkling that something is amiss. The other dancers confirm her feelings when they reveal that the the elder women who run the dance company are witches who prey on younger female dancers in order to revitalize its founder, Helena Markos (also played by Tilda Swinton).

It will surprise absolutely no one that Tilda Swinton’s performances was out of this world. I was particularly impressed by her performance as the elderly Dr. Josef Klemperer. I was worried it would look a little “Professor Clump” like, but it was eerily authentic.  Kudos to the makeup and prosthetic’s team for that incredible transformation.

Dakota Johnson was better than I thought but I had very low expectations for her in this role. An unfair generalization on my part based on past projects and roles that suffered from bad writing. She has a very ethereal air about her that lends itself well to the demeanor of the character. I only wish she was more expressive.

 

Chloe Grace Moretz, one of the higher billed actresses in the film, has very little screen time. You know who else had a criminally small amount of screen time? The ABSOLUTELY stunning Alek Wek. I could NOT take my eyes off of her when she was on screen. Please cast her in more movies a.k.a….everything.

Anyone who knows me knows that my personal preference for films is to not run over an 1 1/2 hours, 2 hours max. So I was put off to learn that SUSPIRIA clocks in at a hefty 2 1/2 hours. I tried not to let that taint my experience. Who knows? MAYBE this is one of those rare occasions where this story really needs all 2 1/2 hours to give us it’s all. It wasn’t such an occasion. Especially given that the time wasn’t spent well.

One of my issues with the film was the lack of character development overall.  We know Susie is a Mennonite from Ohio, and with that information we can use deductive logic to fill in some blanks.  It would lead me to believe that she has had a very sheltered life and probably hasn’t left the United States before. It would also lead me to believe that she is silently dealing with a lot of repression. Repressed sexuality, repressed individuality and repressed expression to name a few. This lends itself to endless creative possibilities for character development, yet it was an opportunity not seized.  It was hard to get in their heads and to get lost in film and it’s players when they all had the warmth and depth of the Albert Speer style mansion they live in.

SUSPIRIA carries an “R” rating, which could mislead people to think it’s full of blood and gore. It is not. But when there is blood and gore, it is pretty damn explosive.  Our first exposure to a brutal death in the film was something really special. The visual was cool but it was the sound design that really put it over the top. The crunch of bones, the twisting of body parts. Just disgusting and awesome.  In fact, the sound design throughout the film was exceptional and I am so thankful for it and the impact it left with me.

Speaking on sound, let’s talk about the films score. I am someone who is profoundly affected by scoring and some of my favorite films are almost solely my favorites because of the score.  Thom Yorke of RADIOHEAD did the score for this film and in theory he seems like he would be a perfect fit.  Prior to seeing the film, I envisioned hearing these haunting and sparsely, yet perfectly placed sweeping melodies. I also pictured songs that play like hymns.  I pictured the score becoming my favorite character in the film.  That didn’t happen.  The score played more like an afterthought to me. Again, a missed opportunity to add greater dimension to the film.

I am a huge fan of the original SUSPIRIA, and giallo‘s in general.  To say I have been highly anticipating this film would be the understatement of the year. I am not alone in this sentiment. Horror fans and cinephiles alike hold this iconic Dario Argento film very near and dear to their hearts. That is why the news of this “remake” rattled everyone and left fans extremely weary of this modern update. I want to address this “remake” label that is being slapped on this film.  Actually, lets just address that term and how  lazily that very loaded word is used when identifying a film. Unless the film is a shot for shot carbon copy ( like the Vince Vaughn starring PSYCHO remake from 1998), a remake it is not.  To refer to a re-imagining or re-visioning of a film as a remake is not only a disservice to the film, but it is highly misleading. Let me set the record straight. This is NOT a remake. This is it’s own stand alone film and a divisive one at that.

 

“SUSPIRIA suspends belief and is a sight to be seen and heard”

3 Tombstones out of 5…

 

Suspiria (2018) Conjures Shocking Images and a Disturbing Atmosphere

Wicked Horror is the author of Suspiria (2018) Conjures Shocking Images and a Disturbing Atmosphere. Wicked Horror is the internet’s only horror fan site for free original horror movies, news, review & more.

Well, prepared to be shocked. Not since Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan was released in 2010 has the fairytale atmosphere of the ballet world been so unsettling. The Suspiria update from Luca Guadagnino reminds one more of Black Swan than Dario Argento’s original. The similarity between Aronofsky’s psychological thriller and Guadagnino’s update does not begin and end with simply the ballet references. However, Suspiria is what would happen if Black Swan was gutted open by a witch with an oversized fish hook. And then she danced around naked.

Suspiria will likely invoke a strong reaction from audiences. As this happens to be its main objective, one can argue that the remake (revision, homage, etc.) is successful. Meaning, Guadagnino’s justification for this production was to create an homage to the feeling the original gave him. Often, when I am describing 1977’s version (or describing Dario Argento flicks, in general), I use phrases such as: “it’s not about the plot, it is how it makes you feel” or “it is like watching a dream, or nightmare, come to life on the screen.” I will give them the basic plot details regarding how an American ballerina, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), is traveling to Germany to attend a ballet academy; however, I add in the suggestion that the story has very little to do with the film’s intention.

2018’s Suspiria revives the same general plotline, but has far more narrative depth than the original piece. Argento’s Suspiria uses ballet as an arbitrary device to pull the audience into the story. The plot is both straightforward and thin. Fans of the original understand this to be fine because the story is not Argento’s main focus. When showing the first version to friends, I find myself silently justifying in my head any narrative gaps. What occurs on the screen in this current incarnation is Guadagnino’s own interpretations to fill in those gaps. And he has plenty of ideas. There is an abundance of storylines, character developments, and dance sequences to fill out Argento’s 98 minute run time into a 152 minute film.

Also See: A Beginner’s Guide to Dario Argento

But, considering Argento’s intent was not to focus on storyline and instead emotion, is all this additional content a good thing? Art is generally considered to be subjective. If a person is a fan of a particular piece, then he or she usually tries to find the reasoning behind this admiration. In the medium of film, we are conditioned to make narrative sense out of what we are seeing. If there are too many holes or the plot becomes confusing, we are tempted to reject the picture as a good film.

The original Suspiria is one of the few exceptions to this rule. Guadagnino’s update is the director’s attempt to show what he loves about the original, while at the same time revealing his “silent justifications” of the plot. Argento’s piece is not about Suzy’s journey or growth as a character. Nor, is it specifically about witchcraft. These are machinations to get the viewer settled into a certain frame of mind.

So, in terms of plot, Guadagnino’s added ideas are dark and interesting. Whatever I found to be missing in the narrative of the original, this Suspiria has now delivered in spades. Truthfully, that leaves me feeling like I miss what was missing before. I did not see the ultimate reveal coming because I had Jessica Harper’s Suzy still in the back of my mind. Regardless, had that not been the case, I believe I would have found this outcome to be predictable. Obviously, having a preconceived expectation affected my outlook. Still, this plot twist seems like something I was subconsciously hoping would not happen. Mainly because it changes the lore of Argento’s Three Sisters Trilogy.

To be clear, I was conflicted with the twist of the ending. The finale, itself, is something to see and experience. The intense range of emotions I felt watching the climax unfold left me overwhelmed. Everything in the film leading up to the finale is uncompromisingly captivating. The film is, perhaps, bloated and could be trimmed down by about thirty minutes; however, Guadagnino tells a compelling story with shocking events. One such event involves temporary lead dancer, Olga (Elena Fokina), as she fights back against authority. The resulting sequence, as it is intercut with the frantic dancing of new Susie (Dakota Johnson), is relentlessly grotesque.

And that is where this new Suspiria is successful. Like the original, whether you love or hate it, you are going to feel penetrating emotions. These emotions could be awe or hate or terror. One could even feel resentment at Guadagnino’s clear manipulations. Others might enjoy having their emotions horrifically contorted for two and a half hours. There are few films that I watch where I am left wondering just what the heck do I feel? I noticed as the credits began to roll, nobody in the surprisingly full audience moved right away. One or two eventually rose to leave; however, the majority just sat there seemingly numb as they stared at the screen.

Related: Back to the ’80s: Dario Argento’s Phenomena

Similar to Argento’s original, there is something hypnotic to this remake. The result of this hypnosis is very different. After the first film, you snap out it as if you had just awakened from an intense nightmare. With this incarnation, you wake slowly as if from a drug-induced slumber. Of course, the cause might be the differing selections in color palette. Guadagnino elected for a muted color scheme which is a sharp contrast to the bright, Technicolor-effect from Argento’s choice. The earlier film tends to pop where the later choice subconsciously brings the viewer’s emotional level down.

No matter the color scheme, the Tanz Academy is brought to life with outstanding performances. Where company members seem to conveniently disappear in the original, this new release develops an intricate hierarchy between the cast of teachers and students that remains intact until the end. Or, if not completely “intact,” they at least have a part to play in the finale. Suspiria focuses on Dakota Johnson’s Susie Bannion. Johnson crawls with feline precision into the naïve and child-like quality of the character. Never losing her confidence, she develops Susie as one quietly stunned with her new surroundings into a woman ready to face her future.

While Johnson is decidedly the lead, Tilda Swinton is the star of this fresh take on Suspiria. Ever the chameleon, Swinton pours a unique quality into each of the three roles she played. Personally, I did not know about the publicity surrounding her portrayal of Dr. Josef Klemperer. She fooled me. And again as Helena Markos. She is equally fascinating as Klemperer and the lead choreographer, Madame Blanc. Particularly captivating is her enigmatic portrayal as the chain-smoking Blanc. She is like a deceitful spider spinning you into her web, and you are unable to resist being enthralled. Even as she is about to take her bite.

The rest of the company is composed of fascinating characters. Wanting to see everything, the viewer never quite knows where to look. Each student and teacher brings a different nuance to the screen. Particularly memorable are Sara Simms (Mia Goth) and Patricia Hingle (Chloe Grace Moretz). Goth’s character differs from her predecessor’s (Stefania Casini) portrayal. Where Casini’s Sara was overtly paranoid and suspicious, Goth is reluctant as she gradually comes to see the truth of her surroundings. She is concerned of Patricia’s disappearance; however, she has no doubts to the legitimacy of the academy. When the audience is introduced to Patricia, they are greeted with a young woman spiraling into madness. She is frantic in her movements and speech. As she claws away at her madness, Moretz delivers a bluntness that is both heartbreaking and terrifying.

An additional performance sweeps in at the eleventh hour of the film. Jessica Harper’s cameo is hauntingly sweet as Anke, the lost lover of Swinton’s Josef. Harper portrayed the inherently different Suzy from Argento’s creation. Little is known about her Suzy (in comparison to Johnson’s Susie) other than she has an aunt that was also a dancer. In contrast to the update, Harper’s Suzy appeared sophisticated and polite, albeit with a low tolerance for any nonsense. Johnson’s Susie has an ethereal quality encapsulated by a quiet fearlessness developed from a Mennonite childhood spent in Ohio.

One further change in Guadagnino’s interpretation is the handling of the dance sequences. A significant amount of ballets feature fairytales on the stage. Complete with vulnerable princesses and malevolent witches, the director does not shy away from utilizing these elements to tell his story. Accompanied by Thom Yorke’s eerily introspective score, the inclusion of specific dance movements punctuate each change in character or narrative development. Argento had minimal use for dance in his picture as it was primarily an arbitrary device. Dance is so essential to Guadagnino’s Suspiria that the film could almost be categorized as a ballet of the bizarre.

Related: How Argento’s Deep Red Influenced Surrealist Cinema

Everything comes together for this remake of Suspiria in a way that will leave audiences more exhausted than a ballerina performing a continuous series of fouette turns. And as shocked as if her ankle broke right on the stage. There is dark humor, breathless movements, and a grotesque horror that will leave haunting images in the viewer’s mind. The overwhelming range of ideas will attempt to drown the audience in a sea of emotion. Some audience members will resent what they have seen. Others will be fascinated. Either way, the effects of this Suspiria update will be lingering. And love it or hate it, that is what both Argento originally desired, and Guadagnino was hoping to achieve.

Wicked Rating 8/10

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer(s): David Kajganich, Based on Suspiria by Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi
Stars: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Chloe Grace Moretz
Release: October 26, 2018 (United States, limited), November 2, 2018 (United States, wide-release)
Studio/Production Co: Amazon Studios, K Period Media, Mythology Entertainment, First Sun, Memo Films, Vega Baby
Language: English, German, French
Length: 152 minutes
Genre: Supernatural Horror

 

The post Suspiria (2018) Conjures Shocking Images and a Disturbing Atmosphere appeared first on Wicked Horror.

Italian Classics ‘Opera’ and ‘The Case of the Bloody Iris’ Get UK Blu-ray Release

On November 19th Shameless Film is going to provide two brand-new Blu-rays of Italian horror goodness for those in the UK (or with region free players). First up is The Case of the Bloody Iris from director Giuliano Carnimeo. This film brings together Edwige Fenech and George Hilton for the third time in this ’70s sleaze gem featuring lush cinematography from Stelvio Massi. This Shameless features a 2K restoration and marks the worldwide Blu-ray debut.

When two young women are viciously slain in a luxury high-rise, a beautiful young model (Edwige Fenech of 5 Dolls for an August Moon) moves into one of their vacated apartments – and soon finds that she is now being stalked by the mysterious killer! The suspects include her ex-husband (a member of a group sex cult), a predatory lesbian neighbor, the deformed son of a sinister widow, and even the building’s handsome architect (George Hilton) who suffers from a paralyzing fear of blood. Can she expose the masked maniac with a taste for luscious women and depraved murder before she becomes his next victim? Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo (under the pseudonym Anthony Ascott) and written by Ernesto Gastaldi (Torso, The Whip and the Body), this shocking giallo is also known as Erotic Blue and What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer’s Body?

Special Features:

  • A new candid chat with George Hilton
  • A new scintillating chat with star Paola Quattrini

Tech Specs:

  • 1080p HD
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Running time: 94 minutes and 38 seconds
  • Audio: English and Italian
  • Optional English subtitles

The second release hitting shelves on November 19th is Dario Argento’s masterpiece, Opera. Being released under the Shameless offshoot label Cult Films, Opera was restored in 2K referencing Argento’s personal print. The film will be release on Blu-ray and VOD. Opera is my personal favorite from Argento’s filmography and I’ve been waiting for Cult Films to release it. The company previously released the best version of Argento’s Suspiria.

A young opera singer gets her big chance when the previous star of a production of Verdi’s Macbeth is run over by a car. Convinced the opera is bad luck she accepts, and becomes the target of a psychopath – a man she has been dreaming of since childhood…

Special Features:

  • ‘Aria of Fear’ – brand new candid interview with Dario Argento, revisiting his work from a fresh viewpoint
  • ‘Opera Backstage’ – a unique behind the scenes documentary about Dario Argento directing Opera
  • Restoration featurette: from raw scan to the regarded, restored and reframed final vision

Tech Specs:

  • 1080p HD
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Running Time: 107 minutes and 13 seconds
  • Audio: English and Italian
  • Optional English subtitles

CultFilms Bringing Dario Argento’s Gory OPERA to UK Blu-ray/DVD

With the remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria arriving in US theaters this November and December, expect interest in all of the Master of Giallo’s filmography to rise. To that end, CultFilms is releasing Opera on dual format Blur-ray and DVD in the UK in addition to various VOD platforms on November 19th. Released in 1987, Opera stars Cristina Marsillach, Urbano Barberini, and Ian Charleson; the soundtrack was composed by Brian Eno, Claudio Simonetti, and Bill Wyman.

CultFilm’s release is a 2K restoration and includes an intro from Argento himself. You can pre-order your copy of Opera HERE and check out the synopsis, special features, and trailer below.

Synopsis:
When young understudy Betty takes the lead role in a new operatic production of Verdi’s Macbeth, she soon attracts the attention of a knife-wielding psycho who forces her to watch – with eyes pinned open – as he brutally dispatches her friends and colleagues with sadistic delight. Can Betty free herself from this unending nightmare or does a more terrifying fate await? Opera is a ravishing return to the giallo style Argento made his name with, awash with black-gloved killers, lavish bloodletting and the director’s expressionistic Grand Guignol excess.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • ‘Aria of Fear’: a brand new candid interview with director Dario Argento, revisiting his work from a fresh viewpoint
  • Opera Backstage’: a unique behind the scenes documentary about Dario Argento directing Opera
  • Restoration featurette: from raw scan to the regraded, restored and reframed final vision

Are you a fan of Dario Argento? Are you excited to check out Opera when it his UK Blur-ray/DVD and VOD next month? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

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Susie Looks Like a Fashion Farmer in New SUSPIRIA Poster

Director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s classic Suspiria is on its way this November, and today we have an all-new poster for you guys to check out. It features star Dakota Johnson looking more and more like Charlie Bucket’s mother every day.

All jokes aside, I’m really looking forward to this film, which our own Jonathan Barkan checked out the flick at Fantastic Fest and in his review called the film: “…not a remake but rather a fascinating reimagination of one of horror’s most enduring titles. It lives and breathes in a world of its own, weaving an enchanting, dizzying, and frightening spell.”

Does this make you more excited for the remake? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Suspiria is directed by Luca Guadagnino and stars Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, Chloë Grace Moretz, Lutz Ebersdorf, and Jessica Harper, star of the original. The remake is completing post at the moment ahead of its debut at the Venice Film Festival in September. It hits theaters November 2nd.

Synopsis:

Susie Bannion, a young American woman, travels to the prestigious Markos Tanz Company in Berlin in the year 1977. She arrives just as one of the Company’s members, Patricia, has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As Susie makes extraordinary progress under the guidance of Madame Blanc, the Company’s revolutionary artistic director, she befriends another dancer, Sara, who shares her suspicions that the Matrons, and the Company itself, may be harboring a dark and menacing secret.

READ OUR REVIEW

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Italian Uncut Print of Dario Argento’s ‘Opera’ Playing Music Box of Horrors in Chicago

The famous Music Box here in Chicago has locked in its massive lineup for their annual Music Box of Horrors’ 24-hour long marathon, which takes place Saturday, October 13th at Noon (doors open at 11am) and runs through Sunday, October 14th at Noon. The highlight is the screening of Tom Holland’s Child’s Play, which celebrates the film’s 30th anniversary and will be hosted by franchise creator and writer (and recent director) Don Mancini! Also just added is a surprise screening of the Italian uncut print of Dario Argento‘s Opera!

It also promises to obliterate your sanity as they journey to the land of Australia for some skin-melting-goop-debauchery, revel in the gleeful delight of two of horrors greatest villains battling to the death, crash land into a hellscape of vamp-infused alien invasion, a sadistic desert-commune living cult leader cum magician, a tale of two sisters and the primate that tears them apart, and oh so much more!

Marathon Lineup with Approximate Start Times:

12:00PM GOKE, BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL – Dir. Hajime Satô, 1968, 84mins, 35mm

1:40PM THE MAFU CAGE – Dir. Karen Arthur, 1978, 102mins, 35mm

3:40PM LORD OF ILLUSIONS with Kevin J. O’Connor in person! – Dir. Clive Barker, 1995, 101mins, 35mm

6:15PM THE LODGER with Live Score by False Gods Trio – Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1927, 91mins, DCP

8:15PM BLAME IT ON TOBY Midwest Premeire! – Dir. Richard Knight, Jr., 2018, 52mins, DCP

9:15PM THE CHILDREN Chicago Theatrical Premiere! – Dir. Tom Shankland, 2008, 84mins, DCP

11:00PM CHILD’S PLAY with Don Mancini in person! – Dir. Tom Holland, 1988, 87mins, 35mm

1:15AM OPERA Italian Uncut Verison | First Time Playing in Chicago! – Dir. Dario Argento, 1987, 107 min, 35mm

3:15AM FREDDY VS. JASON – Dir. Ronny Yu , 2003, 97mins, 35mm

5:00AM SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS – Dir. Michael A. Simpson, 1988, 80mins, 35mm

6:45AM BODY MELT – Dir. Philip Brophy, 1993, 81mins, 35mm

8:20AM WICKED, WICKED in Duo-Vision! – Dir. Richard L. Bare, 1973, 95mins, 35mm

10:10AM FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 – Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace, 1988, 104mins, 35mm

Fantastic Fest 2018: ‘Suspiria’ Is Sensual, Savage Filmmaking-Sorcery

Suspiria

Argento’s original Suspiria is undoubtedly one of his finest and stylistically gorgeous films to date. A remake announcement ruffled a few feathers of fans who held the original highly on the alter of fandom. But, rest assured that this remake is a masterpiece on its own terms using its own legs. We are introduced to […]

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[Fantastic Fest Review] Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Suspiria’ is Its Own Beast, Casting a Hypnotic Spell That’s Sure to Divide Audiences

Set in Berlin during the fall of 1977, a prominent dance company’s lead dancer disappears just in time for aspiring dancer Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) to arrive in the hopes of claiming a coveted spot within the troupe. She quickly catches the eye of the artistic director, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), and is brought under her wing. But the art of the dance is really the perfect cover for spellcasting, and the faculty behind the dance company are really a coven of witches. As darkness swirls and evil rises, will Susie and her friends wake from their nightmare in time?

Save for core mythology elements, it’s clear from the outset that this take on Dario Argento’s revered classic is a very, very different beast. The vivid color of Argento’s vision is traded for the drab; a Berlin cast in gray skies and washed in neutral colors. Goblin’s intense score is swapped out for the languid, moody score by Thom Yorke. It’s one that perfectly encapsulates director Luca Guadagnino’s vision and tone for this deliberate descent into madness.

Told in six parts plus an epilogue, Guadagnino is in no hurry to unravel this tale. At a two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Suspiria dives head first into a deep well of nightmarish imagery, short bursts of shocking horror, confusing mythology, and a whole lot of political discord that’s tough to unpack. This iteration of Suspiria is heavily political in just about every aspect. From the social politics within the coven, to Dr. Jozef Klemperer’s (Swinton in age makeup but credited as Lutz Ebersorf) guilt-ridden World War II past, to the state of revolutionary unrest in the city. Much attention is spent on the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181, an actual historic event that occurred on October 13, 1977, and its repercussions. Guadagnino focuses on all of this in depth to really nail home his metaphor for revolution and transference of power.

Though Susie is the focal point of the story, she’s not quite the protagonist. The character itself is bland and one-note; this Susie is lost in her ambition and easily manipulated by Madame Blanc, and that’s all we ever get to know about her. It’s purposeful to an extent; this Susie is merely the center that brings together all of the other moving parts of the narrative. Dr. Klemperer was the psychiatrist that was helping the company’s previous lead dancer and seeks to prevent another disappearance. Madame Blanc seeks to groom Susie for something darker yet to come, and fellow dancer Sara (Mia Goth) might finally be waking up to the evil within the company. This is really Swinton’s movie, and she shines the brightest. She plays not two, but three different characters in the film, and all so very different and fully realized.

This coven is much more overt in their witchcraft, casting twisted, bloodthirsty spells with cackling glee. There are fantastic moments of brutal horror throughout, building up to an epic climax, and it’s unafraid to go to some truly weird places. The downside, though, is that the slow build pace means that the horror can be spaced a bit far apart.  For some, the glorious carnage presented will be enough to sit through a very heady tale that refuses to hold hands, and others will absolutely hate it.

Guadagnino mirrors Susie in that he’s crafted a new iteration of Suspiria steeped in lofty ambition. This world is overly complex and drawn out, and one of the main running plotlines contributes nothing to the overall narrative when all is said and done. For as artful and gorgeous as most of the film is, some of the more horrific moments feel like a step back in terms of camera work and vfx. Even still, the haunting atmosphere and the teasing mysteries of the Satanic depths of this coven casts a hypnotic spell that keeps you engrossed throughout. Suspiria succeeds as an artistic experience, but from a narrative standpoint, it’s a bit of a mess. Beautiful as it is confusing, Guadagnino’s vision is guaranteed to be polarizing.