Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Elena Fokina, Mia Goth
Director: Luca Guadagnino
“A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.” (IMDb)
»Currently streaming on Amazon Prime«
What to Expect
Why You Should Watch It
Remakes are often vilified for departing from the original, and this iteration of Suspiria is no different. But really, if someone wanted to keep the remake exactly the same, they would just remaster the original (or go the Disney route and change the animation to “live action”). It’s fun watching remakes for the surprises they take, the clever homages to longtime fans, and the toning down of the outrageous camp that plagued cinematic horror for too long. The new Suspiria delivers on all those aspects, and Guadagnino takes his film a step further by inundating it with the kind of symbolism and subtle hints that I live for. Plus, the choreography is captivatingly visceral.
Rainy Day Flick (C)
Art house movies are great for all the little hidden details you miss the first time around. Like Susie (Johnson) screaming “I know who I am!” one of the nights we see Madame Blanc (Swinton) sending her dreams, or Susie suddenly being fluent in French when before she couldn’t pick the language out of a lineup (or how the German subtitles are in red and French subtitles are in blue). They all add up to make a clearer picture of the story: Susie is a reincarnation of Mother Suspiriorum, laying dormant in her human body until she can make it to Berlin and exact revenge on that ho Markos (also Swinton) for pretending to be one of the ancient and all-powerful Ladies of Sorrow.
The three true Mothers identified in Suspiria are Tenebrarum, Lachrymarum, and Suspiriorum, or as Dr. Klemperer muses: Darkness, Tears, and Sighs. They play an important role in the 1977 Suspiria as well, but the Mothers originally come from the wild opium dreams of Thomas de Quincey. He introduces them as companions of the Roman Goddess of childbirth, Levana, naming them Our Ladies of Sorrow and noting the devine perfection of three as seen in the Graces, the Muses, and the Furies.
But what of Mother Markos? In the original Suspiria she was said to be a Greek immigrant, but de Quincey makes no mention of her in his essay, Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow. However, marco is Latin for “weak” or “withered,” and is depicted as much in the remake. Just an old poser…with baby hands hanging off her arms. Eugh.
“All that are betrayed and all that are rejected outcasts by traditionary law, and children of hereditary disgrace,” says de Quincey, “all these walk with Our Lady of Sighs.” At the end of Suspiria, Mother Suspiriorum uses the (notably feminine) personification of Death to blow up the heads of Markos’ supporters, but when she comes to Patricia, Olga, and Sara, who have been tortured and disemboweled, she grants them a gentle release to their suffering with a kiss. The girls had been betrayed by the matrons they had put their trust in and Suspiriorum took pity on them. Similarly, she pities Dr. Klemperer (also played by Swinton!), who appears to be an outcast and is tricked by the coven to bear witness to some seriously traumatic shit. Suspiriorum is a harsh being when disrespected, but is also the mother to suffering and rejection.
Only a few things I don’t quite understand. First, why did the coven take hair and urine from the girls? You can tell the portrait of Madame Blanc and Mother Markos was framed in hair and flesh, which was strange, but they can’t be collecting all that for their art projects, can they? When Susie’s hair is cut, the matron is shown excitedly clutching the locks to her chest before rushing off screen. Is she going to affix it to Mother Markos in some sort of witchy Locks of Love? Does Markos drink pee..? So many possibilities.
Second, when Susie became fully realized as Mother Suspiriorum she opens up her chest to reveal what looks like…well, a vagina. She does bear the title of “mother,” and refers to the coven as her daughters, and if Guadagnino was taking a page from Quincey’s essay, she is connected to childbirth. But it’s just so random.