Critics' Pick

Suspiria (R)

Horror 99 min. November 2, 2018
By April Wolfe
I'm happy to report that I have no idea what's going on in Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria remake, and that's wonderful. The two Suspirias function more as companion pieces than as mirrored twins, sharing only a few key details: There is a ballet school that is run by witches, and people are dying.

Other than that, the new version blazes its own path, which writer David Kajganich smartly intertwines with the politics of Cold War-era Germany. In this version, Dakota Johnson plays Susie Bannion, newly arrived at a Munich dance academy and pleads her way into getting an audition to join the company. She enters a spare, mirrored studio and whips her body around with such zealous purpose that it seems an act of sacrifice. She'll hurt herself for her art. Her performance rouses the attention of the school's master, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), who senses Susie's presence from another room. Meanwhile, an ominous, skinless figure lurks in the basement, a telltale heart whose blood gets pumping whenever Susie dances.

The women of the company welcome Susie, with the exception of a couple who seem psychologically scarred by the recent disappearance of one of the star dancers, Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz). Madame Blanc and her witchy cohorts insist Patricia left of her own accord, but dancer Olga (Elena Fokina) lets everyone know she doesn't buy it. Of course, Olga must be shut up or the school masters risk being exposed for whatever it is they're doing at this school that makes young women disappear. But the manner in which Olga is punished is breathtakingly sick and gorgeous. Like great dance, it becomes an expression of the soul.
Luca Guadagnino Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper David Kajganich, Dario Argento Amazon Studios

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