Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria should be catnip for me. The director’s last two films – A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name – each featured in my favourite films of the last two years. As someone who is a big fan of Dario Argento’s excessive, operatic Suspiria and revisionistic remakes, the idea of a sprawling, art-horror take on this unquestioned classic had me very much excited.
Instead, Guadagnino’s Suspiria is one of my most disappointing cinematic experiences this year. I can single out individual elements easily enough. Thom Yorke’s soppy score clashes with the images on-screen – rarely in an interesting way. Tilda Swinton’s performance as Lutz Ebersdorf as Dr Josef Klemperer is her worst work yet, relying on overstated physicality that can’t mask an unconvincing vocal performance. David Kajganich cleverly weaved political commentary into A Bigger Splash, but here news bulletins about terrorism of the era are shoved into every third scene.
My true issue with Suspiria is that it’s neither thrilling, nor scary, nor fun. Guadagnino instead opts for a disturbing aesthetic, achieved through fleshy body horror, grotesque dance sequences and arrhythmic editing. But it lacks the grace or talent of his prior films and, frankly, just left me bored.