suspiria ending

Luca Guadagnino‘s Suspiria is now playing, thrilling some audiences while leaving others very confused at what the hell they just watched. Guadagnino’s remake strays drastically from Dario Argento’s original, concluding in a shocking, surprising way. Dakota Johnson, who stars in the film as Susie, recently offered up a Suspiria ending explanation, should that be something you’re looking for.

As you might expect, major spoilers follow – so turn back now if you haven’t seen Suspiria.

First, some set-up: in Suspiria, Dakota Johnson plays an American named Susie who joins a prestigious dance academy in Berlin. It becomes apparent very quickly that something supernatural is going on at the school – something involving witches – and that Susie’s life might be in danger. Throughout Suspiria, three ancient witches are frequently name-dropped: Mother Suspiriorum, Mother Tenebrarum, and Mother Lachrymarum. The audience spends almost the entire movie thinking something very bad is going to happen to Susie, and then, Guadagnino reveals a whopper of a twist: Susie is actually Mother Suspiriorum, and she proceeds to slaughter a whole slew of witches were pledged loyalty to the corrupt witch Mother Markos. What follows is a lengthy, blood-drenched sequence in which Susie/Mother Suspiriorum walks around, making heads explode, while Thom Yorke wails on the soundtrack.

While there are definitely hints that Susie is special throughout the film, the twist that reveals she’s secretly an ancient witch in disguise comes out of left field – especially because we see flashback scenes of Susie back in America, with her family. So what’s happening with this ending? Dakota Johnson, Susie herself, has some thoughts. Speaking with Collider, Johnson first delves into Susie’s American life, which we see via flashbacks:

“She comes from a Mennonite family, which Mennonites came from Germany. She has sort of like denounced the church, her mother and her father. She does not … she just fundamentally does not accept the life that she’s been given, which a long time ago if you did that, you were a witch. If you were at all independent, if you thought independently, if you felt independently from your father or the church, you were a witch.”

So far, so good. But where does the whole “Susie is actually an ancient witch” thing come in? In Johnson’s eyes, her character doesn’t know her true nature until the film starts to draw to a close:

“So there’s all these kind of like hints that Susie’s different but she doesn’t know. She just feels this pull, this magnet, this thing, to dance and she has to go to Berlin. She has to be with Madame Blanc. It’s like just she was born in the wrong place. I think that’s how she makes sense of it, like, ‘I just don’t belong here.’

Then I believe once she understands what is happening there is a very very subtle moment where I think she realizes what she’s meant to do. I want the audience to figure out when that is.”

I like this explanation. And I like the fact that the movie doesn’t spell everything out. The mystery is what makes Suspiria special.

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