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Suspiria review – Brutal horror with a dash of pretension from Luca Guadagnino

Based on Dario Argento’s 1977 horror, Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria has turned the horror genre on its head, with powerful women at the centre of a suspenseful, twisted story.

While many of the original elements of the story still remain, Guadagnino has altered the version of events we may come to expect, turning the tense horror into something far more sinister and overwhelming, despite some of the dance elements adding a certain whiff of pretention.

The film’s start is very different to the original: we are first led through soon-to-be interconnecting parts of a narrative, and are introduced to Chloe Grace Moretz’s Patricia, who is completely scene-stealing as a "delusional" and disturbed young girl.

Bouncing off the walls and talking to herself, she seeks help from her therapist Professor Klemperer, as she explains she has tried to battle "a coven of witches" at her dance academy.


Soon, we are whisked away to meet Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) who has impressed the academy’s frosty headmistress Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) with her moves, which are made bigger and brighter by the mirrored room in which she performs.

Susie becomes a student, quickly becoming close with neighbour Sara (Mia Goth) before she begins to hear stories about Patricia, who the teachers claim has left to pursue a future with extremist political groups.

As Susie continues to bed herself into the dance academy, as she becomes one of the favourites very quickly, the professor attempts to uncover what has happened to Patricia, after finding her diaries stashed in his living room.

Guadagnino cleverly brings the audience in on what’s really going on as we are privy to some telepathic conversations between the teachers, as they plot to use their new pupils in some occult terror, the likes of which will surprise and terrify in the finale.

Meanwhile, the horror elements are perfectly executed, with some shots harking back to Argento’s original, as Blanc stands statuesque behind her protege, as well as a cameo for original Suzy, Jessica Harper.

But the horrifying dreams given to Susie to prepare her for what is coming next, and the classic moments of "Don’t go in there!" set the viewer on edge, as we would hope to be, while keeping back all the real mysteries until the final 20 minutes.

Despite using classic horror elements, Guadagnino also puts his stamp on the film, with a gorgeously eerie soundtrack from Thom Yorke serving a similar purpose to that of Sufjan Steven’s Call Me By Your Name songbook.

He also uses his blurred focus to add mystery, and gets the best out of his actors as a director, with Tilda and Dakota having performed for him before, bringing their on amazing gravitas and vulnerability to their roles.


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All in all, for those who love some bloody gore mixed in with a suspenseful, psychological thriller, this is the one to consider come Halloween.

With that being said, the film is definitely divisive, with pretentious dances and the five act structure perhaps being a little jarring, as well as some of the horror scenes being rather tricky for those with a more sensitive constitution.

And while this does not quite reach the heights of Call Me By Your Name, it is certainly worth seeing for some eerie and truly horrifying moments which will not leave you too soon after the credits roll.

Suspiria was shown at the BFI London Film Festival before it comes out on general release in November.

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