In other news: Dancers learn the Danse Macabre
True to its name, Suspiria (2018) is a horror fantasy that will make you sigh –whether or not it’s with disappointment would be up to you.
Taking place in 1977, this Italian-American film presents Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) as a dancer who hopes to join the prestigious Markos Dance Academy. However, her audition is marked by the disappearance of Patricia Hingle (Chloë Grace Moretz), another dancer who has left behind her career and friends without a word. In the chaos of Berlin, Patricia’s case is only a footnote among the highly public kidnappings. The true danger lies with the matrons of the academy, who are revealed to be part of a cult –a coven that worships the Three Mothers.
Despite having Mother Tenebrarum, Mother Lachrymarum, and Mother Suspiriorum as the overshadowing threats, the coven itself proves to be casually malicious to anyone and everyone. Unfortunately, this includes two detectives, an old psychologist, and their own oblivious students. Through the power of witchcraft, a dance could mean a drawn and agonizing torture. In the end, their fates all come down to Susie, who –as you may come to realize– is not as unsuspecting as she seems to be.
In the spotlight, Suspiria shines from the drama of historical conflict and thrives under themes of motherhood, power, and manipulation. These qualities are also the least subtle subjects shown in the movie, especially since they are often explained by the aforementioned psychologist, Josef Klemperer. Aside from this, I find that the movie has greater thematic applications when it comes to breathing. Should you reach the sixth act’s revelation, its significance exponentially increases as the connection is made to the movie’s title –in other words, sound is a hammy play-off of ‘sighs’. Paired with the movie’s choreography, where controlled breathing is essential for the intense artistic exercise called dancing, this is a detail that I can applaud the director for.
While I could see myself asking for an encore after seeing the practical effects used for the satisfyingly visceral gore, there are a few bits and pieces that pierce through the otherwise flawless veneer of the movie. For instance, Suspiria’s reception is severely divided by how it executes its horror elements. The lines have been drawn from critics that claim the movie to either be too ‘absurd’ to be taken too seriously [which can honestly detract the ‘scare factor’] or too ‘poor’ in its execution of pacing and ideas. Knowing this, I can see the potential of this movie being a flop for the average viewer, never mind the let-down for horror enthusiasts who would watch it for potential frights.
Disregarding the film’s failures, I think of this movie as entertaining, even in which the ending resembles that of a cheesy high school play with excessive blood and over-the-top acting. At the very least, the movie makes an effort to go out with a bang rather than a sigh, and that is all I would ask for as someone who likes to give the benefit of the doubt. Should you give it a try, I would suggest bringing a large suspension of disbelief to fully appreciate the experience.
Suspiria (2018) Official Trailer