suspiria remake

You should look upon any remake of Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece Suspiria with a certain amount of caution and distrust. Like the sinister, hiding-in-plain-sight villains of the original film, this remake is saying all of the right things and doing its best to pull you into a hellish trap from which you cannot escape. Don’t believe its lies. Get out while you still can!

Or maybe sit down and stay awhile. Maybe it’s okay to listen to director I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino describe his vision for the remake, which has been in development for years under a series of different directors. And who knows? Maybe the promise of a cast that includes Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson will be enough to convince you to get comfortable and relax. Maybe.

The latest bit of news regarding this remake comes to us via writer Alex Heller-Nicholas, who recently attended a Q&A with Guadagnino following a screening of his new movie, A Bigger Splash. When the subject of Suspiria was broached, he revealed his vision for the film and it’s certainly…interesting. I don’t want to say “good” because that would be me being positive about a Suspiria remake and I’m not yet comfortable making that leap quite yet. After all, I recently wrote a couple thousand words explaining why Argento’s Suspiria is a masterpiece and one of the best horror movies ever made, so pardon my defensiveness.

In any case, treat all of this as rumor until we hear something more – what a director says in a Q&A and what ends up getting transplanted to social media does not always equal what ends up on screen.

And while we should take all of this with a grain of salt, how about we run down each of these bits one-by-one?

The potential casting is the biggest news here and it make a lot of sense. After all, Guadagnino has worked with Swinton twice now and when you have the ability to cast her in any movie, you take it. And Johnson is a wonderful actress who shines through the forgettable murk of 50 Shades of Grey (and don’t let the ever-awful Razzies tell you any differently). It’s easy to see how both actresses can fit into this concept: Johnson is the young ballerina who travels to Germany to attend a prestigious and mysterious dance academy and Swinton is her creepy instructor who may or may not be the member of an evil coven that has sinister plans for the students.

The 1977 setting feels like Guadagnino attempting to embrace the original, which was released that year. And while the original takes place in Freiburg, moving the action to Berlin is an interesting choice. A city divided and still reeling from the fallout of history’s most devastating conflict should make for a fascinating backdrop.

The work of composer John Adams was previously used in Guadagnino’s I Am Love, and he is a very left-field choice for this material. Goblin’s original Suspiria score is the stuff of surreal nightmares, a tribalist rock album torn from the bowels of Hell. Adams is renowned for his minimalist classical work. And maybe that’s a good thing – why try to imitate one of the best scores in horror history when you can pivot?

And finally, Guadagnino citing German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder as a key influence for his take on Suspiria suggests that he may very well be just crazy enough to be the right man for the job. You don’t commonly associate the director of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul with Dario Argento, so it sounds like he has a very specific vision and, hopefully, one worth seeing.

Then again, this film is far from a sure thing. Guadagnino was brought on last September, but only after David Gordon Green tried and failed to mount a remake for years. Maybe Suspiria simply doesn’t want to be remade. Maybe it’s fighting back. Watch your back, Mr. Guadagnino. Stay away from any red rooms.

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