What to make of the upcoming (November 2, 2018) Suspiria remake?

Well, I guess you can at least be thankful it’s not another overblown Hollywood blockbuster super hero movie. Then again, it is traversing hallowed ground. Though I’m intrigued by the prospect of a modernized version of Dario Argento’s seminal and surreal horror classic that influenced a generation of filmmakers, if I had the choice I’d rather pretend it didn’t exist. Still, I admit, it’s impossible no to take a peak.

New photos were released by Amazon Studios recently, and, for the first time, we have an up-close change to see how the film is progressing, at least visually.

So far as I can tell there are only two photos to date. Both feature actress Dakota Johnson, who reprises the lead role of ballerina Susie Bannion. Some are suggesting Luca Guadagnino’s version of Suspiria is more homage than a re-telling of the same story — a coven of witches operating a ballerina academy somewhere in gothic Germany. If that’s the case I do find it odd they’d name the character Susie Bannion, which is the same name as the starry eyed ingenue who flew all the way from New York only to discover that dance classes were the least of her worries.

The images themselves have a washed out, organic aesthetic that looks quite nice. Time will tell whether the filmmakers opt to splash lush reds and purples across the screen as Argento so famously, and beautifully, did in the original.

In addition to Dakota Johnson in the lead, Suspiria (2018) also stars  Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia Goth, Lutz Ebersdorf, and Jessica Harper (the original Susie Bannion).

Dakota Johnson stars in SUSPIRIA Photo: Sandro Kopp/Amazon Studios
Dakota Johnson stars in SUSPIRIA
Photo: Sandro Kopp/Amazon Studios

What I enjoyed about Argento’s original masterpiece is that it was not an experience I particularly enjoyed upon first viewing. It was only after several re-visits that his imagery grew on me. The same thing happened when I first listened to U2’s landmark Achtung Baby album. So different! Yet, it too had a way of growing on you. At the time the sound and look was so far ahead of its time. Perhaps, the best art is hard to understand or appreciate at first.

Over time, of course, it’s become readily apparent that the Italian director had not only influenced many of his peers and the giallo genre of the day, but also modern day directors such as Nicolas Winding Refn (The Neon Demon) who has more than once, for instance, opted for fairytale-like style in surely a nod to Suspiria and its lush color palette. Check in to Refn’s latest project, Too Old To Die Young (also by Amazon Studios), and, indeed, the neon pinks and purples and blues are everywhere to be seen — at least in the first trailer and stills. Other giallo trail blazers like Mario Bava and his 1960’s films, particularly Blood and Black Lace, are also likely influences as well.

Suspiria - Susia Bannion - Peacock finale
Jessica Harper as ballerina Susie Bannion in the original Suspiria from 1977. What imagery!

It’s hard to imagine this modern attempt at Suspiria would eclipse — or even come close — to the 1977 version. The same was true of recent, high profile remakes like Friday the 13th, Psycho and Halloween. Still, at least it looks like this production has a suitable amount of talent and expertise to make for an entertaining result. We can only hope!

Suspiria opens November 2, 2018 in the U.S. (I wonder why not a few weeks in advance of Halloween?).

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