Fantastic Fest Review: Suspiria

Horror remake takes fest secret screening slot

Suspiria is a movie about monsters for monsters. In Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the essential giallo horror film, bones crack and urine squirts as girls fling and gyrate their bodies across the dance floor of a prestigious ballet school in Berlin.

The school is next to the wall the separates East and West Germany, giving its setting an eerie vibe, reminding you that these girls have willingly traveled to one of the world’s darkest cities to pursue their passion.

Susie (Dakota Johnson) is one of those very lucky girls. Without any classical training, she is snatched from her country home in Ohio to come learn from her idol, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). In a single day she rises to the lead, impressing the coven of witchy women who run the academy. Susie contorts her body, slamming her limbs on the floor in a hypnotic ecstasy that is as sexy as it is frightening. She’s a natural, and it feels like dancing chose her rather than the other way around, and as her confidence blossoms under the watchful eye of Madame Blanc, she becomes a force so powerful that it starts to intimidate.

Suspiria is not a movie that will gel with everyone. It will awaken the sickest, most twisted parts of your mind if you allow it. While Dario Argento’s influence softly permeates the film, there are other genre influences like J-horror (Audition, Ringu), Eighties classics (Hellraiser), and New French Extremity horror (Martyrs). Even with all of these influences, Guadagnino’s flair still echoes throughout the movie, never losing himself in the clever mixing of genre. Suspiria is a fantastical nightmare that has the potential to convince those who doubt remakes of classics aren’t as strong as their mothers.


North American premiere

Fantastic Fest runs Sept. 20-27. For more news, reviews, and interviews, as well as our daily show with the podcast network, visit

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