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Suspiria (2018)


Luca Guadagnino’s SUSPIRIA (2018) is technically a remake of Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA (1977), because it’s about an American named Susie Bannion going to a dance academy in Germany in 1977 where other students are turning up dead and weird shit is happening because it’s run by a coven of witches led by Mother Suspiriorum, The Mother of Sighs. But don’t expect to see any of the things you think of when you think of SUSPIRIA, like the colorful lighting, the maggots dropping from the ceiling or that room full of razor wire. Guadagnino (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) doesn’t use the same look or any specific scenes or story points, he just plays with the basic idea. Now there’s more intra-coven political stuff going on, as well as news coverage of Baader-Meinhof bombings and the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and a subplot about an old therapist looking for a patient who disappeared after telling him the school was run by witches, and also his wife (played by o.g. Susie Bannion Jessica Harper) disappeared during the war and he keeps thinking about her, and…

I mean it’s 52 minutes longer than the original so there’s alot more stuff going on. It bills itself as “Six Acts and an Epilogue in a Divided Berlin” (spoiler: actually should be Six Acts, an Epilogue, and a Brief, Uneventful Tag Near the End of the Credits). I appreciated the act breaks.

The best addition is all the dancing. It’s basically STEP UP meets HAXAN. Well… I guess more like CENTER STAGE meets LORDS OF SALEM by way of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. Whatever it is I hope it gets DTV sequels like CENTER STAGE, SAVE THE LAST DANCE and HONEY did.

The original has very little dancing for a movie about dancers, but 2018 Susie played by Dakota Johnson (NEED FOR SPEED) expresses herself mostly through movement, including violent swings with Michael Jackson whooshing sound effects and a whooole lot of sexing up the floor. I’m not sure Don Johnson should see this one. But I really like that these are witches who cast their spells through dance.

Tilda Swinton (CONSTANTINE) – who also worked with Johnson, director Guadagnino and writer David Kajganich (THE INVASION) on A BIGGER SPLASH – plays choreographer Madame Blanc, who gives Susie a big break as the lead in the last performance of her famous work Volk, and is possibly grooming her for… witch stuff. Mega-Tilda as a witch sounds like fun, but in fact she plays this one very straight, which she’s also good at. Unsurprisingly she knows how to carry herself convincingly as a snooty dance teacher. And her character is surprisingly nuanced. She’s not just some wicked corrupting force.


The nine stages of me watching this movie

Stage 1: This Dr. Klemperer character looks like Gary Oldman when he plays an old guy. Yeah, I think this is a younger actor in makeup. That’s a weird choice.

Stage 2: Wait a minute – that’s clearly Tilda Swinton’s voice. She’s doing a German accent, but it’s just her regular voice. It doesn’t sound masculine at all. They are really not doing a good job of hiding this plot twist. This is really distracting. Why did they think they would get away with this?

Stage 3: I mean it looks very convincing. It’s not like Michelle Rodriguez in THE ASSIGNMENT. But it gives away the twist, kinda like that movie PREDESTINATION.

Stage 4: You know what, they’re not trying to hide it. We’re supposed to understand that this is her. She’s planning to overthrow Markos, that must be what this is about.

Stage 5: It’s really starting to seem like she’s just playing an old man and not a witch disguised as an old man or anything weird like that.

Stage 6: Am I crazy? Is it not Tilda Swinton? Maybe I’m crazy. It looks like her. It sounds like her. I’ll check the credits.

Stage 7: (checks credits) It says Lutz Ebersdorf. This is gonna be embarrassing to admit I was distracted the whole time by this.

Stage 8: (to friend in lobby) “I was really distracted because for some reason I was convinced the old man was Tilda Swinton!” “I thought so too!” says my friend.

Stage 9: (checks internet and finds out it was her) That’s a weird choice.

My friends, I do not know why Tilda pulled an Eddie Murphy in this one. Looks like she also played the monstrous Helena Markos, which makes sense. For all I know she’s half the characters in the movie like Tom Hanks in POLAR EXPRESS. It is cool if it means that they have an all female cast – I thought there might’ve been one man singing during the ritual, but I don’t remember any others. And I know it won’t be a problem on a second viewing. But man is it a novel way to distract and confuse the audience on their first viewing while you want them to be paying attention to some point about “the concept of motherhood and the uncompromising force of motherhood,” according to the director.


The whole dance company have a great exotic look with cool late ’70s hair-dos and many cigarettes. All except Susie and Sara are played by professional dancers. You don’t know if they’re intimidating because they’re dancers or because they’re liable to literally stick their hooks in you. The look works for both.

There’s a strong sense of place, time and mood that’s very transporting. And there are many weird little things going on. Like, there’s a character who looks like Velma from Scooby-Doo who seems to be concerned about something and your eye always go to her in these crowded frames and you wonder what’s up with her and then… I’m not sure you find out. But something does happen. And there’s a section where you kinda realize wait a minute, did Susie’s friend Sara (Mia Goth, A CURE FOR WELLNESS) switch to the main character now? Note, though, that Chloe Grace Moretz (TODAY YOU DIE)’s character is “Patricia Hingle,” not Pat like in the original, so it is not necessarily an homage to the great character actor who played Commissioner Gordon in BATMAN (1989). Moretz is real good in kind of an extended guest appearance. I didn’t recognize her at first because most of her dialogue is in German and she has wet hair in her face.

Oh, that’s one thing they got from the original, there’s lots of raining and then there’s a line about getting a cab in the rain. You know, for the fans. One of those eggs they got. The easter ones. Fans swear by ’em.

The score by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke gets to some feverish burbly synth points once or twice but mostly it’s kinda downbeat, with him singing and everything. And it’s fine, but especially when the end credits roll it’s hard not to think of the pounding, roaring, growling all-timer of a Goblin score for the original and how scary and cool and exhilarating it is. And this fuckin guy is plinking on a guitar and moping about whatever the fuck he’s on about. Poor guy.

There’s at least one scare sequence that’s a little on the Germany’s Most Disturbing Home Videos side. But mostly there are great ones. The first involves Susie doing a dance that beats the shit out of another dancer in another room, unnaturally twisting every part of her body, and it’s not a quick gag. It’s a full on dance/grueling torture sequence (made particularly gruesome, I have learned through reading materials, by the dancer, Elena Fokina, being able to contort her body for real). This is not the kind of arthouse-version-of-a-horror-movie that feels above stabbings and gooey monsters and bones sticking through flesh. It goes for it.

I would like to be be a polite philistine on this one. The “philistine” part is that I liked this movie but would’ve loved it if they cut out most of the historical context stuff. It is possible that this Italian director and American writer have something very important to say about the post-WWII generational shift that was happening in Germany when they were 6 and 8 years old, respectively, and that it adds greatly to the story of these dancing witches. If so it’s way over my head, so for me it dilutes what could be a far more intense experience if the horrific parts weren’t so spread out.

And the “polite” part is that I know there are people who adore this movie as is, so I’m glad it does exist in this form because there’s nothing else like it and I can always get what I’m talking about from the first SUSPIRIA or many other great horror movies.

I hope it’s clear that I enjoyed the movie, despite everything that’s befuddling about it. Any and all of its flaws are proof that it’s an interesting work, not an i.p. cash grab. If I don’t need to understand why the meat vendor guy in INFERNO decides to chop up the old man being killed by rats then I don’t need to know why Dr. Klemperer has to be played by Swinton in makeup. And in my opinion the climactic ritual is straight up spectacular, like Clive Barker’s version of a big budget Vegas stage show, complete with blood fountains and naked human pyramids. If the rest of the movie was even longer and more boring it would still be worth the wait.

That said, Guadagnino, if you’re gonna have several ominous shots pulling up to a crazy stylized chandelier above the dancers, do me a favor and fucking drop it on somebody so we, the audience, know you don’t hate us. You had that kid fuck a peach in that one movie and nobody got mad – we are not your enemy, so throw us a bone every once in a while. If you can’t remember that I don’t think you’re ready for INFERNO. But I can’t wait for you to get to MOTHER OF TEARS.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 5th, 2018 at 12:08 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

75 Responses to “Suspiria (2018)”

  1. Given my less-than-stellar track record with horror movies the internet loves, I was fully prepared to just let this one go but then I saw this clip of the final dance performance and decided that maybe it was up my alley after all.

  2. *SPOILERS* Kinda like how a recent watch of Jurassic World 2 made me appreciate the glimmers of wit and fun in The Predator, this movie made me realize “Man, I think I like Hereditary alot more now”. They’re completely different movies and probably shouldn’t be compared to each other, but in the world of slow-burn, art-house, 2 hour+ alternative horror with an apocalyptic, bloody, head-scratcher of a climax, Hereditary did have a knockout central performance and real emotional weight, plus actual scares I thought about days after seeing it. This movie has its charms (I love the witches telepathically communicating while gabbing on about nothing in real life), but it’s slow, unengaging, and honestly kinda boring. From the very first scene with Moretz and Swinton, I kept thinking something was off and boring, and I kept waiting for it to get “good”, but it never really happened. Swinton electrifies every time she’s on screen as her main character, but there’s long chunks where she’s gone and Dakota Johnson absolutely cannot carry a movie (and yes, I’ve sat through all 3 Fifty Shades movies). I get that she’s supposed to be cold and distant regarding the final twist, but then again I’d appreciate not having my time wasted with a bunch of Mennonite flashbacks that just serve as a red herring (or to add some symbolism like the hostage situation that I don’t get and am not interested in enough to piece together).

    The good news is this made me want to finally get A Bigger Splash off my DVR, and it was incredible – the filmatism is next-level brilliant (as are the performances), and the slowly unfolding story is intellectually and emotionally involving. I don’t even think I’d classify it as a thriller, but there’s scenes with more tension and suspense than anything in Suspiria, and I’m actually not kidding.

  3. Oh and A Bigger Splash has a dance scene better than any in Suspiria too:

  4. I don’t mean to be an asshole but I really don’t care about anything you do until I know that you’ve watched The Night Comes For Us. That goes for everybody here. :)

  5. **Warning this is one of those times I don’t take the middle-ground or nice-ground and then get called out on and I start back-tracking on somethings to stay nice.**

    Yeah this is modern Indy-horror through-and-through. All the shocking shit is only shocking if you never saw a horror movie before. It’s actually a super-boring drama about finding yourself and living with the guilt of being German. I’d be surprised to learn that the director of Peach-Fucker The Movie who made this one actually liked the original and his decision to do the exact opposite everything the original did (near-perfectly)was his way of not stepping on it’s toes cause this pretentious (arguably not necessarily a bad thing!) horse-shit totally reeks of him watching the original with his nose up in the air but since it was made by a fellow Italian he’ll do it a favor and actually make a good version of the story. Compare that to Snyder’s & Gunn’s DAWN OF THE DEAD which came off as ‘that’s cool but here what we’d do with the idea!’ Like all modern Indy horror, there is nothing in here you haven’t seen a thousand times before and often done better (if SHIN HALLOWEEN taught us anything, it’s that if you get a critical-darling to do the same shit that ‘hacks’ and ‘lesser’ filmmakers do, then it’s visionary apparently) except now it’s surrounded by hours and hours of bullshit but to be fair the acting is uniformly excellent. Other than that: this movie is visually ugly, the score is forgettable, the story has too many characters and subplots (many of which go nowhere but I have a theory on that below), and worst of all it’s boring.as.shit. Don’t worry our lead is getting over the death of her mother so we can get more drama.

    Also we all owe the dude who made RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP an apology: we all made fun of him for the cop character obviously being a woman in makeup and here they do the same thing but it goes absolutely nowhere.

    The climax is (unintentionally) hysterical though. I busted out laughing at the naked lady making ‘scary’ singing sounds. The climax finally clued me into what this actually was, the director wanting to make his own David Lynch film/homage. It’s a relatively normal boring movie with a bunch of weird touches and the occasional bat-shit part and it has a bunch of subplots that go nowhere that if it were any other movie we’d punish it for but since it’s made by ‘an artist’ it must MEAN something!, and it all builds up to and concludes on a totally crazy and logic-defying climax that feels like it came in from a completely different movie. The one difference is that I think Lynch would have stopped after the ‘people start getting exploded by a demon(?)’ climax, Peach-Fucker-Guy adds an epilogue to shove in your face what the movie is ‘about’ (hint: it’s post-war Germany and filmmakers and storytellers are convinced there is only one thing worth talking about re: Germany).

    Please inform me how I didn’t understand this movie and explain how deep it is at saying absolutely nothing new or interesting about post-War Germany. That’s not me being snotty, after all Shoot McKay and Broddie helped me accept David Lynch’s movies and I rewatched them all this year and enjoyed them as is. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to accept this one. Until then BREAKIN’ series & STEP-UP series >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> SHIN SUSPIRIA

    Anyways, I’m glad the people who adore it like it and I congratulate them on seeing their first horror movie if this one disturb them so much.

  6. The Night Comes For Us was awesome and did live up to the hype though!

  7. The Night Comes For Us is an all timer.

  8. One guy from Andromeda

    November 5th, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    I detested a bigger splash and call me by your name for being the shameless, uninsightful ripoffs of superior movies that they are (la piscine and the six moral tales by Rohmer) so I have a hard time to convince myself to give this a chance.
    The only interesting thing about it is how it is okay to play Germanface for an American apparently, it was not okay for an American to play a robot built by Japanese people just recently. Must be something about the eyes I guess, as I can’t come up with a rational explanation.

  9. I usually am a fan of these horror movies that the Vern community disparages as indie films only non-horror fans would find scary, and I resent the notion that I’m somehow less authentic of a horror fan because of it. It’s a lazy form of criticism: “you only like this because you’re not One of Us, so there’s no point in engaging with you about it anyway.”

    Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I dug the hell out of SUSPIRIUH. I think the Lynch comparison is reasonable because like latter-day Lynch, it all hangs just on the verge of coalescing into something you can make sense of; it sort of has an intuitive nightmare logic to it so long as you’re only looking at it out of the corner of your eye, but then that meaning evaporates when you look directly at it.

    But even so it cohered pretty well for me. I never found the post-war setting distracting because, I mean, it’s 2018…not hard to relate to living in a post-traumatic society where people are radicalized by terror. At some point a character literally wonders why nobody recognizes that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better…they would have gotten a shitload of retweets if they made this comment today on social media.

    The witches realize the path forward is fucking horrific, and that’s why half of them choose to die instead of following their Mother. They use the specter of the Doctor’s wife to lure him to witness their ritual, and once the trap is sprung they criticize him for failing to rescue his wife from the Nazis, and for failing to recognize the truth of the witches’ victims who came to him for aid. The doctor protests that he is an innocent, but it doesn’t matter, the furies have been awakened and the debt of despair must be paid. So, it was pretty powerful for me when she decides to absolve him of his guilt and regret in the monologue. It’s as close to a happy ending as a film this utterly blackhearted is capable of, I think.

    (I’d note also that this trope of the thing that is supposed to represent comfort/safety turning out to be the instrument of one’s demise, is classic Argento and reminded me of the piano player’s guard dog from the original film)

    I wish I could articulate my thoughts better, but yeah it just sort of all worked for me. Really fucking well.

  10. I feel like I understand how the Outlaw community feels now about movies like THE WITCH (for the record: probably my favorite movie of 2016 and a movie that literally still provokes gooseflesh when I think about it. Every moment of that movies is drenched in malignant, festering, evil). I hated this movie. It’s a dull, meandering, bloated, self-important disaster. This is a movie made by a guy that I think actively doesn’t like horror movies and considers himself above them. The whole thing has the reek of Inarritu-style pomposity. The only thing about it that made me want to scream was when it would cut back to that utterly baffling, cloyingly affected stunt-casted old man, whose scenes are uniformly distracting, boring, and pointless.

  11. This essay discusses the three Tildas as ego, superego, and id. Kinda over my head but maybe somebody will get something out of it.

  12. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack of the original over the past week or so to get in the Halloween spirit and let me just tell you that there’s nothing like walking around a dark city downtown with a Goblin soundscape to make you really feel like you’re about to be murdered in an incredibly graphic yet stylish manner.

  13. From what I’ve read, the director has been obsessed with SUSPIRIA since he was 12 years old. He’s been trying to do this for years and was supposed to be the producer when David Gordon Green was going to direct. The writer, however, is not a horror fan, and his quotes about wanting to get into the characters more explain why it is the exact opposite approach of Argento (where it is very important for the characters NOT to feel like real people, and he would never be foolish enough to try).

    I like that, though. If it tried for the Argento approach it would fail.

    Geoffrey, I have to wonder what is here that we’ve seen a thousand times? The dancing a person to death, the stumbling around with no legs, the crazy naked dance ritual. I can understand hating all the pretentiousness, but I don’t see how you could think this is just your standard been-there-done-that horror shit. Which movies have I missed?

    (Also, not important, but the lead is not getting over the death of her mom.)

  14. This movie fucking sucks, it’s the very definition of the emperor has no clothes. It keeps throwing out all these political allusions, like playing cards for arm chair critics to dissect what it means, but it doesn’t meaningfully engage with any of them, its just a ploy to make people think the movie is smart. The equivalent of having a bookshelf full of philosophy giants and name dropping the authors to make it seem like the work is deep.

    The fact is, there’s no coherent political statement or insight here, nor is there any real characterization for any of the girls. It manages to spend 2.5 hours and convey not much of anything. So okay, its really long and not really about anything, what about judged purely as a genre movie. Well it fails at that too, there’s no mystery or tension. They reveal everything that’s going on pretty much from the start, you’re spending all this time with the witches just kind of hanging out, and that combined with the attempts to embed this in the real-world, just make the witches seem boring and like not much of a big deal. Outside of the 1 major kill at the mid-point, which is very effective, its a total wet blanket as a horror movie.

  15. Oh man, this is one I’m gonna have to force myself to watch. I’ve only seen the original in the last couple of years and found it pretty good, nothing earth-shaking. So a complete artsy-fartsy re-imagining of it is not setting my brain on fire. But Johnson was really good in BAD TIMES AT EL ROYALE, so that helps, and anyway, I want to be a part of the conversation. I’m prolly not alone that as I get older, I only wanna pay money on the big screen for the big FX type movies or stuff that appeals to my sensibilities. I dunno if this is gonna be one or the other of those but since I live in Austin, TX I might as well go check it out while I have the chance. That’s half the reason I moved here, damn it.

  16. I don’t really like the Argento Suspiria much. Or most movies about witches and demons and anything vaguely religious in the horror realm.

  17. In the vein of remaking giallo (in a sense) …

    Just wanted to get a short nod in for Carpenter Brut possibly out 80-ing the 80s with taking the trailer from Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock (aka Murderock – uccide a passo di danza; also known as Murder-Rock: Dancing Death, Slashdance and The Demon Is Loose! – it’s not really a giallo from that era with about six different titles at least, is it?) for their video of Le Perv (warning, could be a bit of a spoiler for whodunnit).

    The original … is a little different, though no less 80s.

  18. Carpenter Brut is awesome. That is all.

  19. Wow, I can’t comment on Suspiria 2.0 because I’ve yet to see it. However, I’m COMPLETELY surprised by the amount of love The Night Comes For Us is getting in it’s comments section.

    Granted, I only made it about 45 minutes, but I figured at that point the movie had shown me everything it had to offer (lots and lots of actors making bug eyes directly into 10mm lenses, machetes entering rubber limbs, and “twists” such as plastic “Caution! Wet Floor” signs obstructing a barrage of machine gum bullets). all in a loud, tacky, and dunderheaded fashion.

    Perhaps it picks up (or calms down) in the back half? Dunno. The sad part is, all that was promised to me was ‘crazy action’. And while that was certainly attempted, all that was delivered was sloppy, repetitive, and dull.

  20. Mr. M: don’t support cam rips because that most definitely is from the movie!

    Renfield: I admit that the first horror film comment was needlessly dickish and I even hesitated to post but soldiered through anyway so I apologize for giving you or anyone else reading it offense. I will stand by my whole any non-tourist horror fan finding this scary especially the climax that remakes the that part of the 2015 FANTASTIC FOUR movie where Dr. Doom is walking around exploding people. So again I apologize and I’m glad I have someone on my side on the Lynch comparison. In solidarity I will make time to read that article you link to.

    Dustin: What you said (except I didn’t enjoy THE VVITCH though, sorry)

    The Kurgan: Hope you weren’t walking a dog when you did!

    parapa: What you said

    Vern: “I like that, though. If it tried for the Argento approach it would fail.”

    I agree with this. It’s my preferred approach to a remake (especially of a movie that should never be remade), like the Snyder/Gunn remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD: just take the concept and do your own thing. Unfortunately at the end of the day you’re still remaking a movie that should never be remade and your film will forever share a title with a much better movie that has stood the test of time. Despite my asshole comments above, again I apologize, I don’t hold it against anyone loving this one.

    Now back to being an asshole… So is he a fan the same way all these other guys making Indy horror are as well? If you ask their favorite horror movie they always (ALWAYS) say ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE SHINING and I suspect if you try to quiz them any harder their non-tourist facade would fall like a house of cards?

    Re: the mom, so she’s looking for a replacement mom has nothing to do with her mom dying? Maybe I inferred because the recent spate of indy-horror all of them is about getting over the death of a loved one.

    -The pretzel lady was a unique twist of the voodoo doll trope, I’ve seen people twisted up before but not through dance. So I’ll give them that.
    -Stump Leg Monster: I really liked this part because for two minutes it became a SILENT HILL movie which is where I’ve seen stump-leg monsters before. Too bad they didn’t stick with that and instead went with a more boring but surely cinematic: lady steps into a magic hole and breaks her leg.
    -Crazy naked dancing: Both ROSEMARY’S BABY and HEREDITARY both used naked old people to scare the audience. As someone who had to help deal with a grandfather who died slowly of dementia and is currently assisting an uncle who is slowly dying from a stroke from a few years ago: naked old people don’t scare me, they are just a way of life. Also, like Mr. M, the dance totally reminded me of the STAYING ALIVE final dance.

    So I dunno, nothing in this felt like something I’ve never seen before. I can relate though, a few years back one of my favorite movies was made and most felt it was dull-as-dirt and for me it was a transformative experience because I’ve never seen depression and pent-up privileged male rage so perfectly before. I tell people this and they look at me weird and tell me I’m looking too much into it (even though the director has come out about having depression and has attempted suicide before). Also there are Lynch films, Shoot and Broddie learned me and I can now take them as is but they will never the experience for me as they are for other though.

    To be positive: there is one great WTF scene where they sneaking around the front-office looking for a file on one of the killed girls and our hero accidentally wanders into a secret and watches as some of the faculty play with hooks and a penis on two police offices that Not-Tilda Swinston in old age makeup had look into his patient’s disappearance. While doing this they are cackling like witches of lore and our hero just watches and laugh and I do legit like this sequence: it’s weird, like our hero we’re not sure what to think about it, and then she goes back to her roommate and says nothing and it’s never really brought up again. That’s the kinda forced David Lynch-style weirdness I can get behind.

    In conclusion: I agree I’m being the ass here and I shouldn’t be pouring on an indy-produced movie that many have absolutely loved and many have spoken about how this version of the tale speaks to them. I think I’m more disappointed in learning that now I can’t even listen to ‘horror-guys’ when it comes to new horror as well. Like Mr. M maybe I should strongly consider just waiting this phase of horror out.

  21. jojo: If you were not sold by then on NIGHT then I don’t think any part after that will change your mind. Sorry it didn’t live up to the hype for you, we’ve all been there.

  22. Well, I guess I can understand why you guys wouldn’t like this one, but I kinda loved it. I never found it boring. But I think the disconnect may be that it’s also 100% not scary, either, and I’m not even sure it’s trying to be. It’s more like some kind of brutal, visceral, abstract drama. It’s an immersive, symbolic art movie more than anything else. Luca Guadagnino is cinema’s premier sensualist right now, and this movie is crammed with the same vivid, almost exaggerated sensory overload, full of complicated tactile surfaces, and a fixation on the human body and its interactions with its environment. When she’s jumping, the dance floor looks so hard it seemed like her legs were going to snap off, ramming into it again and again. Everything in this world is hard and cold, except human flesh, with is terrifyingly malleable and fragile… except that coiled within that flesh is a frightening, barely-contained volcano of power. It obviously has some themes it’s interested in, but for me, that’s enough by itself. Guadagnino is an absolute master at conjuring place, and this is him working, no less effectively, with a very, VERY different palette than the idyllic paradises of CALL ME BY YOUR NAME and A BIGGER SPLASH.

    Johnson is kind of a blank, and the story is no more focused than Argento’s version (and maybe even less so, if such a thing is possible?). But I didn’t find it boring, not even the Dr. Klemperer segments, which I admit don’t amount to much narratively. The movie is insisting they’re important, though, and it’s to deliberate for me to argue that it’s some kind of careless mistake. I’m not 100% sure what they’re getting at with the political background, other than the general idea of a painful rebirth (both immediately after the war and during the turbulent 70s) but I certainly didn’t find it boring. Klemperer is an enjoyable character to spend time with as he slowly makes his way around. I think Geoffreyjar and renfield are both right that there’s a little of modern-day Lynch here, with the emphasis on the slow, deliberate way the character does simple, everyday things. I dunno. If you’re looking for white-knuckled tension, you won’t find it in the movie, but if you’re in the market for a strange, savage, provocative, and masterfully appointed drama, I think this is an A+ version of that.

    *********POSSIBLE SPOILERS?********

    I didn’t find Tilda’s other role to be a distraction. The makeup looks a bit stiff, but it’s certainly a good enough job that there were moment where I, like Vern, questioned whether I wasn’t wrong and maybe this really was just some old German character actor. But anyway, it doesn’t matter, because Swinton is excellent in the role. She’s more recognizable as Tilda Swinton in her main role, and I didn’t have a hard time buying her as that character, so I don’t see why it’s so hard to accept her in another role where she’s even more disguised. I guess maybe the makeup is so close that there’s some kind of uncanny valley effect? That kind of thing usually doesn’t bother me much, but maybe that’s what is putting you guys off? It’s never entirely realistic, but obviously that’s part of the point. It’s not like they just couldn’t find any older male actors fluent in German and had to fudge it and hope no one would notice.

    Anyway, I know exactly what she’s playing that character. Whatever else it is, SUSPIRI-UH? is fiercely committed to being about women. It’s so important to its themes –and even more important to its fundamental vibe– that it would be unthinkable to have a major male role in the movie. So, if there must be a male character, he, too, must be a woman. I guess they could have put another actress in there, but I’m never going to complain about too much Tilda Swinton. And obviously it’s interesting to have her as the primary movers on all sides of conflict. This is what Kubrick wanted to do with Peter Sellers in DR. STRANGELOVE, and I think it works here for the same reason. You’re certainly not supposed to not notice. It’s a weird choice, to be certain, but one of the many weird choices here that I think makes it a lot richer and more interesting/

    *********END POSSIBLE SPOILERS?********

  23. I liked that scene too, Geoffrey. I don’t know why but I really find humor in characters accidentally seeing something totally crazy that they’re not supposed to see. See also BLUE VELVET, HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II and the unfilmed Michael Jackson cameo from BLADE II.


    Mr. Subtlety, to me there’s no fault in the makeup or the performance (well, maybe it would be possible for her to do a more masculine voice, but maybe trying would only make it more noticeable). It’s only the fact that it *is* noticeable and it certainly didn’t occur to me that at the end of the movie he would still just be the character he was presented as at the beginning, that he just happened to be played by Tilda Swinton for reasons not apparent in the movie and that several days later I would still not have found an explanation for. So I spent the whole movie looking for a trick that wasn’t there – wondering what sort of witchy deceit Madam Blanc was up to by also living as Dr. Klemperer, or whatever she was doing, how this would play out and whether or not I was supposed to be surprised.

    Like I said, it won’t be a problem at all on further viewings, but on the first viewing it’s a way to be distracted that I have never experienced before. I don’t necessarily object to it. I think it’s totally crazy. But I like totally crazy.

    My friend told me that Swinton claims to have worn the entire body, dick and all, under the clothes the entire time. That would actually explain the absence of some of the usual noticeable padding issues when people play different body types, but it’s hard to believe the makeup people were willing to do that!

  25. Her commitment to it or not, it still looks like someone in makeup stiffly shuffling around.
    Cast Max Von Sydow in that same role, and the movie is instantly 200% better.

  26. *********SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS ******** ********
    Vern — I think they possibly erred by trying to deny it in advance. They’d have been wiser to tell everyone in advance and let us get used to the idea. That way we don’t get suspicious that the movie’s trying to pull some kind of twist on us.

    Speaking of which, what did we think of the actual twist? When the movie immediately confirmed that, yes, witches, I assumed it was just going to be straightforward, but it actually managed to surprise me at the end. I’m not sure I understand exactly what the deal is, though; was Susie actually Mother Suspiriorum all along? If so, why go through the trouble of making up a backstory and infiltrating the academy? Or was her backstory legit, and she possessed some poor Amish girl? Or was she just reincarnated, and slowly remembered who she was over the course of the movie? What was she trying to do, and what is she intending to do now (that “things are going to get a lot worse before they get better” line seems like a clue, but I don’t really understand her goals well enough to know what it might mean). Is she going to be punishing mankind (and maybe men in particular) for the horrors of the holocaust etc? Is that what her line about guilt at the end means?

    Parapa — I’d never object to throwing Max Von Sydow into something, but I think the point is that putting a man into that role would derail something else the movie is doing. It’s important that the character be a man, but it’s more important that the whole movie has an all-female main cast. But anyway you should definitely watch Argento’s SLEEPLESS if you haven’t.


  27. Never in a million years would I have suspected that dude was played by anybody other than an old German. Just like I never would have suspected Bruce was dead the whole time, or that there are only 2 actors in SLEUTH. I tend to find the reality a movie presents extremely persuasive…

    Also Geoffrey, I appreciate the conciliatory language. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a degree of elitism; we’re part of a subculture of enthusiasts and it’s okay to recognize that we’re more of an authority on this stuff than your average civilian. I consider myself extremely well versed in horror, but it has not led me to the same conclusions I see bandied about on this websight. I mean… I genuinely believe that PARANORMAL ACTIVITY is one of the best horror films of this century. Excuse me while I go run and hide now..

  28. parapa: Is that supposed to be joke on how Max Von Sydow was cast in PROMETHEUS and then Ridley Scott, Ridley Scotted himself and decided they needed Young Weyland scenes and then they bought out his contract and cast Guy Pierce and they never filmed those scenes so now it’s just randomly Guy Pierce in old-man makeup instead of an actual old-pro like Sydow?

    Mr. S: I keep giving all the credit to Shoot and Broddie but I should also give you credit as you also learned me on David Lynch so thanks for that. Maybe one day you will learn me on this one as well but I think SHIN SUSPIRIA and me need space, it’s not her… it’s me… Maybe one day we’ll meet and be on the same wavelength… ahh what am I saying, everyone loves her so much and is so proud of her she’ll already be spoken for by many others if that ever happens… I wish her well… **runs and hangs out with INFERNO and MOTHER OF TEARS and the like three unofficial sequels**
    -loved your CHAINSAWNUKAH this year as always btw

    renfield: I liked PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, it is a text-book example to maximizing your limitations (in budget not filmatism). I definitely don’t think all the much less artful copy-cats should be held against it. It shows what you can achieve on nothing but ingenuity and talent and all the copy-cats show all little you can achieve by chasing a gimmick/trend. Plus, like it’s fore-bearer THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, it still holds up while it’s copy-cats never did at all.

  29. I’m not sure Jojo even got to Julie Estelle’s character yet who was so awesome. It’s ok, there are no universally beloved movies.

  30. Kinda weird how many of the people who hated A CURE FOR WELLNESS love this one. Verbinski probably should’ve put some “deep” Nazi subtext into his atmosphere-and-creepiness-over-logic Eurohorror hommage.

  31. Oh hell, “it’s not really a giallo from that era with about six different titles at least, is it?” should have read “it’s not really a giallo from that era without about six different titles at least, is it?

    I hate it when things like that happen.

  32. Renfield: While I’ve made the mature choice not to go out of my way to see a movie I know I won’t like (also and less inportantly it’s not playing near me anyway), I’m gonna appoint myself the delegate from the side of the aisle that hates these movies and reach out to your side for a truce. If we agree not to cast aspersions on your horror bona fides, you guys have to promise not to use the “You just didn’t get it so allow me to explain the very obvious themes to you because that will retroactively make you enjoy it,” the “You just hate it because it’s so original why don’t you go watch PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 12,” or the “Your expectations were wrong and that made you judge the movie incorrectly because I assume you are a child who pouts for two hours when he doesn’t get chocolate milk like he wanted” approaches. We will concede that you are perfectly capable of liking both fancypants crap like HEREDITARY and red-blooded meat-and-potatoes horror like FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI and you will concede that we are perfectly capable of disliking a movie we understand and desiring a fresh, bold take on the genre while still finding many of this era’s fresh, bold takes on the genre to be underwhelming. Both sides agree to review the fucking movie and not the fucking audience. Deal?

  33. Hehe, this reminds me of when The Matrix Reloaded came out, and its fans’ most common arguments always seemed to be, “You just don’t get it,” rather than, “Here’s what is good about it.” I don’t imagine I’ll see Suspiria 2018 anytime soon, based on what I’ve been reading, but I do recall feeling like the first Matrix was pretty damned good, whereas the sequels had no clothes, so I’m going to make the completely irrational, illogical jump to conclude that I won’t be missing Suspiria 2018 in the time until I inevitably catch up to it on tv or streaming in six or twelve months.

  34. I can’t say I see the point of remaking SUSPIRIA without the vivid colors at all.

    The whole point of the giallo genre is the eye popping visuals and surrealism and it would be cool to see that style done by modern Hollywood, not to mention the fact that 2010s culture is all about eye popping colors.

    I just cannot fathom what the filmmakers were thinking, this seems like a huge missed opportunity to me.

  35. Also both sides have to agree not to use the “But you liked/hated this other completely unrelated movie and not this one ergo your argument is invalid for some reason” gambit. For any movie, really. I’ve used it myself but now I want to be a better person than that. Don’t be the Netflix algorithm. Don’t assume just because someone likes one movie with a certain set of keywords they must like every other movie with those keywords or they are a hypocrite. This is bad internetting. Let’s all stop doing it.

  36. CJ – I also thought of A Cure for Wellness several times during Suspiria (and not just because of Mia Goth’s appearance in both) – and yeah, Wellness, despite also being overlong and unfocused, at least makes an attempt to be scary and creepy. Suspiria doesn’t fail at being scary because it literally doesn’t even try – I mean why bother to put scares into a remake of a well-known HORROR film when you can do much more interesting things like keep playing endless news reports on the TV/Radio about a political event that maybe 3% of the audience knows about? I know that sounds crude and insensitive, like people should only make movies about things everyone already knows about, but sorry, it’s distancing and unengaging and if I could connect it thematically to the rest of the movie without trying to bend myself into a pretzel that’d be one thing, but it just seems muddled and pretentious. Oh, on a related note, I’m hereby announcing that in 2045 I’m doing a remake of It Follows. It’s going to be set during either the Branch Davidian standoff or that one week everyone played Pokemon Go, I’m not sure which, but it’s gonna be awesome and if you don’t like it go back to watching Transformers 19, blah blah…..

    On another note, Suspiria made me realize “I should totally watch Sucker Punch again, this time not on drugs” and it’s even better than I remember. I’ll try to throw comments in that forum once I compose my thoughts, but in the age of #metoo and GamerGate and “toxic fandom” and Trump, I found myself incredibly moved. Like the last Purge movie, it’s an angry, burning howl at the system disguised as crass exploitation, something Suspiria ’18 could have been (or might be, for all I know).

  37. Which side of the argument does It Follows fall? The indy horror side or the true horror fan side?

  38. I honestly thought most people here were going to love the movie and not have the same reservations I had. Finger on the pulse.

    In my defense, that has held true for everyone I’ve talked to in person about it.

  39. Mr M — Having seen SUSPIRI-UH? myself and probably liked it more than anyone else here except maybe Renfield, I can confidently tell you in Werner Herzog’s voice that you must absolutely never watch this.

    On the other hand, due to my unfortunate experience as person who’s looked at the youtube comment section a few times, I don’t know if I can entirely promise to avoid the “Your expectations were wrong and that made you judge the movie incorrectly because I assume you are a child who pouts for two hours when he doesn’t get chocolate milk like he wanted” approach, in light of its obvious explanatory power in 95% of internet arguments. (Though not here with you guys, of course).

    Hey, for those of you who didn’t like this one, I’m curious as to what you think of Luca Guadagnino’s other movies. To me this feels very much of the same cloth as his other movies, with the same strengths and weaknesses (though a very different tone).

    by the way, according to wikipedia…
    “In an interview with Deadline, Guadagnino revealed that the original title for the film was Suspiria: Part One, which was changed so as not to reflect something that could not be considered a standalone work. However, he admitted interest in further exploring the origins of characters Madame Blanc and Helena Markos, and also the future of Susie Bannion – provided the film is a success at the box office. Guadagnino expressed interest in doing a prequel about Markos, stating: “I have this image in my mind of Helena Markos in solitude in the year 1212 in Scotland or in Spain. Wandering through a village and trying to find a way on how she can manipulate the women of the village. I have this image. I know she was there, I know it was six to seven hundred years before the actual storyline of this film.”

    You gotta admit, you want to see that.

  40. “You gotta admit, you want to see that.”


  41. Mr. S – I saw A Bigger Splash right after I saw this, and I’m still thinking about it – I think it’s a minor masterpiece – arty yet accessible, “pretentious” but lots of fun, full of great performances and filmatism and music; it’s got everything. I feel Suspiria was made by a completely different person but I’m sure I’ll change my mind after seeing his other movies (Suspiria, as much as I complained above, is still interesting and isn’t going to turn me off to his other movies anytime soon).

    A Bigger Splash also has some dynamite setpieces; you could choose maybe 5 or 6 scenes to show someone on youtube and they’d go “this looks interesting, I’d like to see the rest of that”. Suspiria has maybe 2 memorable scenes (the body contorting and the finale). I mean, yes, maybe it’s my lizard-brained expectations but why do we have that opening sequence with Chloe Grace Moretz that makes you go “oooh she’s gonna get killed like Drew Barrymore in Scream!” and then she just talks…and talks…and talks….and then the scene ends and then she disappears only to show up in Incredible Hulk makeup later and not do anything. Thank you, movie – expectations subverted! Ya got me!

    Re: A Markos-based prequel. Maybe I missed something, but was Markos even a real character? She had like 3 minutes of screentime and I couldn’t understand half of what she said. We know she’s “bad” because she looks grotesque and all of a sudden Blanc does a face turn that’s completely unearned. I just don’t find either one to be a particularly interesting or compelling character, and as much as I like Swinton I don’t want her to take her “chameleon” reputation literally and turn into the arthouse Nutty Professor. Then again, Guadagnino might be onto something – that Emperor Guy in Return of the Jedi was pretty scary with his few minutes of screentime too – we should totally get a prequel about how him and his frenemy Darth Vader came to be, that’d be great.

    (Btw, I hope I don’t come off too aggro on this movie, it’s nowhere near Jurassic World 2 on the “worst movies of the year” list, and I’m actually kinda jealous of you guys for liking it, I wish I did too)

  42. geoffrey — com’on, I’ll buy the beer. You’ll love it, I promise, even if there’s like 35 minutes of head-scratching 13th-century Scottish sheep-based clan politics they keep talking about.

    neal2zod — “Then again, Guadagnino might be onto something – that Emperor Guy in Return of the Jedi was pretty scary with his few minutes of screentime too – we should totally get a prequel about how him and his frenemy Darth Vader came to be, that’d be great.”

    Boy, you picked the worst person on this sight to threaten with a prequel comparison. You’re just making me want to see it more.

  43. Ha, halfway through writing that sentence I was like, “Oh wait, Mr. S was the one man who actually found a way to describe the Prequels that made them sound GOOD”, but I had to finish writing it anyway.

    I’m still surprised Guadagnino is talking sequels and prequels though, the movie is so deliberately obtuse that it seems like a followup to further explain stuff they didn’t even try to explain here would seem like a weird cop-out/betrayal of the first one.

  44. Sounds like the movie’s a bunch of pretentious bullshit.

  45. You should see it, Griff.

  46. Mr. Maj:
    “We will concede that you are perfectly capable of liking both fancypants crap like HEREDITARY and red-blooded meat-and-potatoes horror like FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI and you will concede that we are perfectly capable of disliking a movie we understand and desiring a fresh, bold take on the genre while still finding many of this era’s fresh, bold takes on the genre to be underwhelming. Both sides agree to review the fucking movie and not the fucking audience. Deal?”

    I mean, sure, although I prefer THE FINAL CHAPTER. As well, I am a defender of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and would not use it as a way of insulting someone’s credibility.

    I thank you (and Vern) for the recommendation of HELL FEST which I thoroughly enjoyed, although I don’t really get why somebody who loved HELL FEST would despise the new HALLOWEEN unless they are seriously grading on a curve, but I guess that ventures into reviewing-the-audience territory.

    This isn’t directed at you, but I do not get what’s particularly pretentious about SUSPIRI-UH. That scene where Susan debates the merits of the jumping choreography appearing where it does with Madame Blanc is probably the only scene where I cringed a bit, but I think a stronger actor could have pulled it off. All told the post-war political stuff basically accounts for like 240 seconds of screen time, most of which is directly plot- (rather than theme-) related because it’s used as a scapegoat for Patricia’s disappearance.

  47. Also in case the reviewing-the-audience thing was directly particularly at me, I hope that my attempts to defend eg the thematic coherence of IT FOLLOWS came across as simply a defense of the film and not a claim that if only you understood it, you would automatically enjoy it.

  48. no surprises here but i loved this one.

    i’ve been putting off saying this for the longest time because i can’t be fucked opening the door to this but fuck it, here we go: it is completely bizarre to me that people who don’t like these kinds of horror movies, or this “modern phase” of horror movies as I’ve heard it called, behave as though the theatres are absolutely saturated with these fucking things. two, possibly three of these types of joints are released theatrically a year, usually not on all that many screens, they often don’t make much bank, audience scores are usually in the toilet, and then they go to a streaming service somewhere or, if we’re lucky, physical release.

    here is an admittedly incomplete list of theatrically released horror films from 2018: THE PREDATOR, GHOST STORIES, HALLOWEEN, WINCHESTER, THE NUN, MANDY, HELL FEST, HEREDITARY, TRUTH OR DARE, UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB, UNSANE, SUMMER OF ’84, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT, OVERLORD, THE FIRST PURGE, SUSPIRIA, INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, SLENDER MAN, A QUIET PLACE and then depending on which territory or country you were in you may have been able to check out PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH, MOM AND DAD, BAD SAMARITAN, TERRIFIER etc on the big screen too.

    am i saying that the non-modern-indie-horror-movies on this list are good? fuck no. most of them suck. but i dunno, it just feels a little disingenuous to me to act as though theatres are currently suffering through a glut of HEREDITARY’s and SUSPIRIA’s and VVITCH’s when in reality it is a small handful per year at best. i do totally agree that the state of modern horror is pretty fucking bad though, but i’d argue that’s the case pretty much across the board. the last relatively straightforward horror movie i actually loved was the MANIAC remake and that came out five fucking years ago so i understand how real the struggle is.

    also i have never, and would never, accuse someone of not “getting” a film if they didn’t like it. that shit is like the height of arrogance to me. so please, if anyone ever hears someone pull that shit, especially when it comes to modern-indie-horror-movies, please check them on it because they’re making those of us out there who just want to go watch some shit like SUSPIRIA and then get on with our lives look like a bunch of fucking assholes.

    thanks everybody.

  49. Renfield: “I don’t really get why somebody who loved HELL FEST would despise the new HALLOWEEN“

    Is this directed at me? I complained about the hype for that movie and how short it fell of its goals, but I kept saying overall it’s “decent bordering on pretty good.” It might be a better movie than HELL FEST but HELL FEST is the kind of movie I’d rather see. Not riding anybody’s coattails, not ashamed to be what it is, just an unpretentious horror workout that does a little bit of its own thing and doesn’t waste anyone’s time doing it. It’s a small surprise instead of the usual big letdown.

  50. Mixalot: I can’t speak for everyone, but the fact that horror’s been in the toilet for so long makes me hate these movies more, because they’re the only ones that generate any buzz and get people talking, and then I think they’re all a bunch of lugubrious crap. Yeah, those other movies on your list came out but did anybody give a shit? Christ, half of them are rehashed stupid jump scare sequel garbage. They’re not the answer either. I want the genre to move forward and be bold and different, but I don’t get why nowadays that seems to always translate to “slower and sadder and more boring.” Where’s the new horror dynamo who wants to take the genre in a bold new direction that doesn’t involve sapping all the color out of it and slowing it down to a crawl? It all feels very tired to me.

  51. Also can somebody tell me what the fuck is up with this Luca guy’s other movies? I keep seeing all this praise about how he’s a sensualist and “you can practically taste the food!” So? That sounds like some dancing about architecture shit to me. I can literally just go eat food whenever I want. My body then turns it into feces and I forget about it. I repeat this process literally every day. It might be the least interesting thing in the world. Why do I need a movie to show my eyes what food tastes like when the genuine article is, like, right there? Why is that worth making a movie about? I get that he’s Italian and thus gesticulates wildly about things no reasonable person would bother gesticulating about at all, but what the fuck? Isn’t pictures of food what Instagram is for? Now we gotta make movies about it? Why?

    Also, I’m sorry, but you can’t fuck a peach. There’s a hard, jagged pit in there. Even if you could get your dick in more than an inch, you’d tear yourself up on that thing. And you can’t get the pit out without destroying the peach and rendering it unfuckable. It’s a bad idea from every angle. Also the title of that movie fucking creeps me out. Somebody said that shit to me, I’d run for the goddamn hills. That’s some SINGLE WHITE FEMALE shit. I cannot relate to that being romantic at all. It’s a fucking nightmare. Me and this guy need to stay far away from each other if this is the kind of shit that fires up his imagination.

  52. Mr. M: Not specifically at you, and also uttered before I read your plea of refraining from “If you like X then it means something about your reaction to Y” style reasoning. But yeah I feel like HALLOWEEN is perhaps a slightly better slasher flick than HELL FEST, yet was received more harshly for extratextual reasons.

  53. Was it though? Nobody on earth except maybe three people on this sight saw HELL FEST, and it received middling, dismissive reviews. Meanwhile H2018 is a critical darling except among a select few sourpusses like myself and a massive hit. If that’s being treated harshly, then I’d hate to be given a fair shake.

  54. MAJESTYK: absolutely, the current horror climate is pretty much a tussle between either disposable jump scare bullshit or lofty indie takes on the genre, but i’d argue that the reason the indie horror shit is getting so much shine is because motherfuckers working in the populist realm of the genre dropped the ball so fucking badly that these arthouse filmmakers could just scoop it up. i actually think we’re fundamentally on the same page here, the major difference being i enjoy these self serious, po faced excursions into horror filmmaking a lot more than you do. i think we are both longing for a better recipe of one of our favourite products to come out, and i hope that someone in the game is working towards providing it.

    i also hope you are doing okay and are happy and well. we haven’t had a back-and-forth on here in a while but i always love reading your comments and takes. also i would like to echo the sentiment that you should never, ever watch SUSPIRIA 2018 no matter how high the stakes. you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

  55. neal — I sincerely doubt Guadgnino’s goal with any prequels/sequels is to make things less obtuse.

  56. Thank you for your genuine concern. I’m doing okay. I got creative outlets and emotional support and I’m working hard trying to figure this life bullshit out, with mixed results. And yeah, I think we more or less agree on the state of horror. That said, though, despite my outpourings of negativity, I do manage to see plenty of horror movies I enjoy every year. Recently I’ve enjoyed the two FEST movies, some Netflix streaming joints like THE RITUAL, THE WINDMILL, and RADIUS, and I thought STRANGERS 2 was like a thousand times better than the original, even if I feel like this “It’s like a John Carpenter movie except not as good!” fad is on its last legs. I could live without this continued obsession with the 80s, but hey, I get it. That era of horror was bold and iconic and full of elements that create a Pavlovian reaction in horror fans. It was also the last gasp of horror as genuinely disreputable outlaw cinema. I don’t feel like the genre’s acceptance into the mainstream was a positive thing overall. I feel like this modern era feels very bourgeois, very fake subversive. I once described the justly forgotten action film FROM PARIS WITH LOVE as “like a normal movie wearing a lampshade on its head to show how wacky it is.” This era of horror feels like normal movies wearing store-bought Halloween costumes. They feel like they’re made by art students, not weirdos. I miss the weirdos, because I’m one of them.

  57. “Also, I’m sorry, but you can’t fuck a peach. There’s a hard, jagged pit in there. Even if you could get your dick in more than an inch, you’d tear yourself up on that thing. And you can’t get the pit out without destroying the peach and rendering it unfuckable.”

    Thank you for reminding me why you’re my favorite commenter, not that I needed a reminder but it’s always nice to get a visual as good as that.

    renfield: I use the word pretentious but I honestly don’t think being pretentious is automatically a bad thing so it was wrong of me to use that as an implied insult. I said so due to the tone of the thing (I actually did really like the ‘Act’ structure). Funnily you mention the the merits of the jumping choreography as being an almost cringey part for you because I liked that part, yeah it’s super on-the-nose and maybe the most ‘mainstream’ scene in the movie but it works and gives us, the audience, a good look inside Blanc’s worldview and past.

    Mix: Funnily about thirty / forty minutes into the movie I told myslef, ‘I bet Mix is gonna love the fuck outta this thing’

    Mr. S: I don’t drink so you’re not tempting me by buying the beer!! Also I have yet to see Guadgnino’s other films. On the docket though even after my feelings on this one.

  58. Oh, Mr. Subtlety, the GRIZZLY MAN reference made my day. Now, that’s horror.

    This looks like my cup of tea, looking forward to seeing it.

    I find myself liking a lot of films in both the indie artsy poseur column and the more straight-ahead slash column. I liked HELL-FEST and HEREDITARY both. RITUAL was good. That one was kind of a slow-creeper, too, though, Majestyk. I want to check out THE APOSTLE…Dan Stevens. Has to be good. YOU’RE NEXT grew on me with a second watch. H2018 was good but overhyped.

    It can be helpful to do a quick scattershot look at the diversity of what’s come out in the last couple of years and what all immediately comes to mind that worked for me.

    Watched MANDY and loved it, but then tried to watch BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW and just couldn’t hang with it.

    Did anyone watch CREEP or CREEP 2. I loved those.

    QUIET PLACE looked handsome and was semi-atmospheric, and the grain silo scene was a winner, but it, too, was supremely overhyped. A fine diversion but nothing overly memorable. Kind of like SIGNS in a lot of ways. I mean that as a meh-its-okay-but-overrated-and-ultimately-forgettable-liment.

    HAPPY DEATH DAY was great. Winsome softcore slasher. Most important: fun, fun, and an inspired slasher mask and great central conceit. Shows that there is still an audience and a path for this kind of film.

    SPLIT was good when I watched it, but the last 5 minutes pretty much ruined it, the more I thought about it. Really undercut it for me. I’m a sucker for fan service, but the Shyamanlanverse is just too much, and I’m having a lot trouble getting excited for the next one. I hope I’m wrong. Did like the VISIT, though. Don’t care if others laughed or whatever, I thought it kicked ass.

    GET OUT — big winner. Just a good, original horror film, and definitely not arty farty crap. It’s got a big sense of humor and is genuinely chilling at places and is not a slow-burn type.

    Okay, so, that about catches me up.

    I guess what bums me out a little about HELL-FEST is that I know it’s possible to do an effective and inspired slasher film that does something different and ups the game. HAPPY DEATH DAY did that. It was a little tame in terms of violence stakes, but it worked very well in it’s lane and brought something new, and it’s definitely possible to do that with something gorier. We get so few theatrical slasher films, and HELL-FEST is so generic and workmanlike. It’s got it’s moments, but overall, just kind of a shrug. Like, if this is the best new idea we’ve got for a slasher villain (no, it’s not, it can’t be!), then I see why people would just want to do reboots. An okay movie for what it is, but as our last best hope to revive the theatrical or decent-production-values slasher, it’s a real missed opportunity. You blew it, Tommy. We was supposed to be like this.

    The problem I have with all the bitching about the arty stuff is how it’s all about what it’s not or what it needs to be. Here’s what it’s not: it’s not for you. Broaden your palette or move on. It’s clear enough which films will fall into this bucket, so just stop bitching about their existence. I don’t enjoy classical music or have much interest in old time Western films, but I’m not going to bitch about their existence just because the form does nothing form me. Dunno don’t get it.

    Anyway…moving right along…I’m looking forward to trying this one out!

  59. GEOFFREYJAR: i’m such an easy mark when it comes to these fucking things, there’s no point even trying to deny it.

  60. also i would just like to clarify that i am fully aware that SUSPRIA is pretentious, overlong, self indulgent and heavy handed. but one of the reasons i loved it so much was for its commitment to taking those aspects of itself SO far that, for me, it became really audacious.

    i get it though. i feel for the people who had to sit through this and have a miserable experience (and not in the way the film intended. or maybe it did?)

    the most recent cinematic equivalent for me would be GOOD TIME which i found to just be the most insufferable, hollow, empty, obvious, pandering, pathetic, charlatan thing in a long while and whose filmmakers i would happily cross the street to avoid but which many of friends described as “perfect”. such is the pleasure of art i guess.

    MAJESTYK: really glad you dug THE RITUAL, as did i. i really think you should give THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER a shot if THE RITUAL didn’t make you want to claw your eyes out. BLACKCOAT’S is my fave horror film of the 2010s but please don’t hold that against it. also i would still love to get yours (and everyone’s actually) take on THE BOY (2015). super slept on little film. and i’m really really glad to hear you’re holding up okay. hence the BLACKCOAT’S reccomendation. it ain’t no match for you.

  61. Mr. M:
    Regarding HELL FEST’s alleged better reception than HALLOWEEN: I was only referring to the reception among us, on this websight. I

    I guess my original comment that started all this came from an objection to what I perceive as a sort of tribalism about categories of horror among us. A genre that has been historically spurned by the critical establishment now sees 2-3 critical darlings emerge each year, and I would argue there is an automatic suspicion directed at them, be they an artsy fartsy SUSPIRIUH or a meat and potatoes HALLOWEEN. I don’t think the people embracing the VVITCHES and IT FOLLOWSES are necessarily tourists; I speculate it’s more the case that a lot more critics these days are people who genuinely grew up loving horror films in an era where they were not really taken seriously from a critical perspective.

    I also don’t get how everybody seems to just know for a certainty that you would hate this witch flick. I know you’ve explained, it’s just one of those perspectives I have a hard time understanding!

  62. Why am I the center of this controversy? I didn’t even see the movie. It might be the greatest movie ever made for all I know, because I took Skani’s advice and kept it moving. Y’all want this “cover of a punk song played on a ukulele” shit, I won’t judge.

    I DID see THE NIGHT COMES FOR US, though, which everyone should see. The plot makes almost no sense, some extremely vital character relationships are simply not established at all, and the title makes it sound like some hipster zombie movie with no zombies in it that I also wouldn’t watch, but who gives a shit when the action is so nuts? It’s not up to RAID levels of precision craftsmanship but there’s a sloppiness to the mayhem that I found delightful. The apartment onslaught was the highlight for me. As much as I appreciated the slowly simmering savagery Talsim brought to his boilerplate Violent Man Seeking Redemption and the unexpected hints of mega Iko used to flesh out his underwritten antagonist, the movie belongs to Zack Lee as White Boy Bobby, a standard The One Junkie Fuckup In The Crew character so awesome he redeems that entire tired trope. I love an action movie that gives its supporting heroes their moments in the sun, and this one gives them all thrilling action beats, moving bits of heroic motivation, and (SPOILER) glorious deaths. Bobby really stands out though. I would eagerly watch an entire prequel about how lost that leg. Or just a day in the life of him spazzing out and throwing dudes out windows and shit. A hospital drama. A three-camera sitcom. Whatever. Bring me more White Boy Bobby.

    This one is just the right balance of serious and dumb. It’s not cracking jokes all the time but it’s also not asking you to sit through more than the barest minimum of fake drama. (I love that the disapproving girlfriend character just disappears from the movie halfway through. Sorry, lady, we have no time for your semi-realistic emotional trauma. We have randos to mutilate.) I continue to be very pleased with the state of the art of action filmmaking in general and of Indonesia in particular. Can’t wait to see what these crazy fuckers come out with next. As much as I love my crazy Thai fuckers, I have to admit the Indonesians put that little extra mustard on it. The filmmaking is generally more ambitious and the acting is certainly superior. I would watch a full action vehicle starring literally any of the main actors in this movie. But especially my new main man Zack Lee. Get this fucker in a vigilante movie or something. He’s big, he’s nuts, and he’s totally lovable. I want to watch him murder dudes and protect orphans and shit. I think he’s got the goods.

  63. Sorry if I’ve singled you out my dude. I guess it’s the burden of being the prolific and provocative commentator you are!

  64. It’s all good. I get it. I do think Skani is right in the long run, though. We’re talking about a trend that consists of like two or three movies a year, is not enormously financially successful, and whose only crime is entertaining a relatively small amount of people who aren’t me. What do I care? It’s only because I feel possessive of the genre that it gets on my nerves. And I have no right to feel that way. Every artist has the right—nay, the duty—to make their own kind of horror. I don’t have to like it. Horror belongs to us all. Even ukulele-strumming poseurs.

  65. Mr M, the other director of the Mo Brothers team looks like he is making the same movie except Mad Dog in place of Joe Taslim.

  66. Well, “Man Of Violence Protects An Innocent” is one of the five bestselling Shake-And-Bake Action Movie Plots sold by Acme Actionco MacGuffin Emporium and their online subsidiaries (right up there with “This Sensitive Information Can’t Fall Into The Wrong Hands!” and “I Never Wanted To Be A Hero Until They Killed/Kidnapped My Loved One/Partner!”) so it’s statistically not that unlikely that they unknowingly ordered the same one out of the catalogue. Luckily, Acme Actionco offers lots of accessories for personalization, such as pyro and martial arts add-ons, customized setpiece variants, and separately sold, completely modular preassembled plot twist kits, including the ever-popular Backstabbing Mentor model. Remember, nobody cares about the plot in a pure action movie, so just get over yourself and choose Acme Actionco for all your violence-motivating needs. Shop at our historic MacGuffin Emporium in sunny Burbank or visit us online at SoYouNeedAReasonToKillLike80Dudes.com.

  67. I also enjoyed THE NIGHT COMES FOR US, although I don’t think it’s quite at the level of HEADSHOT or either RAID movie. The choreography is sometimes sloppy and the plot is convoluted nonsense. It’s also too long. Maybe they could have cut out a few of the ten thousand scenes where a bunch of triad gangsters stand in a big line and riddle someone with bullets.

    But what it does have is a level of excessive violence and gore that makes RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY look like TALLAGEDA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY. It has the highest stabbings-per-minute of any movie I’ve ever seen. I get how the extreme level of violence can be wearying or off-putting to some. There were times where the violence would start to get a bit repetitive and I’d think “I get it now, that’s enough”, but then the movie would pull out some ridiculous gore gag, like where Iko Uwais gets his arms riddled with thumb-tacks like something out a Road Runner cartoon, and the movie would win me over again. It treads a very fine line; it takes it’s violence seriously while also having no interest in the level of trauma the human body can plausibly sustain. It also has badass lady assassins with gimmicky weapons, which I always appreciate, although the film’s depiction of evil sociopathic lesbians is, dare I say, a little problematic.

    Hope Vern gets a chance to review it; I saw him tweeting about technical issues while trying to stream it.

  68. I loved this one. Won’t happen but it’d be interesting to see this get the opposite of a director’s cut, because I think a 90 minute cut could still work. It’d also basically be Gaspar Noe’s CLIMAX, so we don’t need it. Noe did a lean, taut dance class freak out last month, so this time we get German history lesson Suspiria. Sure, I’ll buy it. That said, I could see this being one of those films that the amateur editor crowd take it on themselves to do alt edits to (like that all-in-one Hobbit).

    It reminded me of the 80s remakes of The Fly, The Blob and The Thing – in that it takes a pretty mannered or stylised movie and runs the story through a more naturalistic and historically concrete setting and aesthetic. But still gets weird with it. Really weird.

    Which feels like a valid take on the original Suspiria to me. That’s why I bought the Meinhof stuff, cos you don’t get more concrete than that. Like, thematically this felt ballsy to me – reminded me of the book Verso put out defending terror in during the French Revolution. Cos the argument here seemed to be that when democracy fails (via con-artist leaders appealing to a counterfeit heritage) its okay to blow peoples heads off. Hell of a message for the Trump era. It’s interesting to be in an era in which ppl making art are responding to fascism as a living force again. Spooky times.

    It had an intensity to it, but it pulls on different muscles to the ur-Suspiria. I doubt this’ll replace the original as the definitive Suspiria experience but it satisfied me as a response to it, and I think it sits pretty comfortably next to Noe’s Climax and Black Swan, in terms of being how three of the biggest directors of today see Argento’s movies.

    Can absolutely see why this one has been divisive, and I’m pretty clear on where I sit along that divide. Probably worth saying as well, went to see it with my GF (who is literally doing her MA thesis on horror movies) and it struck a chord, she was in tears for the last 20 minutes and couldn’t talk on the way home cos the ending fucked her up so bad. Not a typical reaction for her, so yeah I guess if this movie works it really works.

  69. I went through the same stages of confusion regarding Tildda Swinton playing the old dude. I watched the German dub where they could have easily hidden this by using a male voice actor, but they used the same actress for all her characters.

    Unfortunately that was the most interesting part of the film, the rest was pretty dull. This film looks the way Michael Bay’s grandma’s TV probably smells.

  70. Vindication!

    Dario Argento Says the 'Suspiria' Remake "Betrayed the Spirit of the Original Film" - Bloody Disgusting

    Most (many, at least) horror fans seem to be in agreement that Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria is one of the finest remakes of a horror classic to date, turning

    I can handle a slow-burner if the eerie, suspenseful atmosphere is there and there is the anticipation of some sort of pay-off. This one, however, is gray, bloated, convoluted, and plodding. Any one of these is a risk factor for narcolepsy and ADHD, but you put them together, and it really becomes something of an endurance test.

    The film is brimming with subtext and keeps hinting that the coven and its goings on are meant to stand in for feminism or fascism or patriarchalism or some more-than-the-sum-of-these-parts German zeitgeist c. 1977. But all these “big idea” allusions and apparent subextual layers never gel into a coherent theme. Like clickbait for film studies scholars and others in the humanities, it checks enough of the boxes to allow you to project onto it any number of (non mutually exclusive) mad libs-style ideologically oriented psychodynamic interpretations, but it doesn’t seem fully committed to any of these, or at least not sufficiently focused or disciplined to see any of them through to full maturity.

    Relatedly, there’s no clear point of view or protagonist, though Susie and Klemperer are our best candidates. While well-performed, both characters are pretty thinly drawn and seem more physical or kinetic than psychological. Tilda Swinton does a convincing performance of a troubled old psychoanalyst who survived WWII-era Germany, but we never really know the character as anything other or deeper than this blurb. Same with Dakota Fanning’s Susie. Sure, we know she’s from a Mennonite home in the midwest, and sure, we know Klemperer lost his wife in WWII. But it all feels very spoonfed and perfunctory vs. building up any momentum to emotionally engage us. The director attempts to “show, not tell” these things, and the showing is technically competent and at times even intriguing, but it never adds up to complex or interesting characters. These are not fully realized humans but fairly trite cyphers.

    The film that seems to want so desperately to be about something and to be taken seriously as either a challenging dramatic work or a hallucinatory arthouse experience (or both), but it can’t commit or focus. It wants to be a parable or set of interconnecting parables, but it’s more just a set of muddled ideas and ambiguous archetypes shuffling on and of screen.

    Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of technically competent elements of this film (the period look and set design, the make-up effects, the performances) and some notes of inspired weirdness (Swinton’s multiple roles and the associated prosthetics, esp. for Markos, some of the kills and violence, the performance of Volk). The final witch confrontation / reveal was also original and overall pretty captivating, if undercut by some iffy CGI blood (whiffing on the blood is all the more distracting and disappointing, given that they generally nailed the prosthetics and other make-up effects).

    The little postcript scene was a baffling bit of tidying-up-loose-ends exposition-speak. The film spends its first 2.15 hours pummeling and teasing us with underdeveloped allusions and pseudo-political subtext, only to end with an extended exercise of the one main character witch-splaining to Klemperer, giving a detailed, blow-by-blow backfill of his wife’s fate. This and a few other scenes attempt to draw out some links or dualities between benevolent (Klemperer) and malevolent (Nazis) forms of patriarchalism and benevolent (Susie) vs. malevolent (Markos) feminism and are as close as we get to some kind of grand statement of what themes this film is trying to explore and what it might be trying to say. But it’s so hamfisted in the way it overcorrects here, and it still falls so short in making the on-the-nose point that it seems to want to make here, that’s just kind of a headscratcher.


    There is enough that is interesting, competent, and even inspired — and in my general wheelhouse — to make this one worth watching and, who am I kidding, probably rewatching. But it’s not lean, focused, or suspenseful enough to work as a traditional suspense-horror film. It’s characters are too stereotyped and devoid of an inner life or psychological point of view for it to work as a psychological horror film. It’s not consistently bizarre and disorienting enough to work as a Lynchian lucid nightmare. And it’s too muddled and all over the place in its “big ideas” deconstruction of 20th-century “isms” to be a coherent or satisfying parable or psychodrama. The whole is less than the sum of its parts.

  72. Yikes @ some of the horror gatekeeping in this comment thread. I totally get not liking this but accusing people of not being proper horror fans or some shit because they found some of this scary is just fucking childish.

  73. Nobody is actually gatekeeping.

  74. Oh, I’m totally gatekeeping. If you either like or don’t like this film, you’re not a true horror fan, you poser.

    Kidding aside, I feel like maybe I need to see this one again or something. There’s just too much interesting about it on paper, I’m wondering if I just wasn’t in the mood for it or something.

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