Suspiria ★★★★★

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I'm a big fan of Dario Argento, but I'm admittedly pretty lukewarm on his Suspiria and definitely prefer Luca Guadagnino's reimagining. It's fitting that I should lose a good number of readers at this point, since one of the film's key themes is that binary thinking (East vs. West, man vs. woman, Blanc vs. Markos) is destructive to all involved.

That's not the only theme in play, however, and the film supports a myriad of reads and "hot takes." Some films are open to interpretation due to the lack of formal structure. Suspiria goes so far in the opposite direction that it comes back around entirely. It even announces its act structure as part of the opening credits. It's like an exploitation film for NPR listeners.

While there's seemingly something for everyone, it is the collision of elements that keeps this film from being approachable. Hope you like dance, because Suspiria is all about it. But you also have to be comfortable with blood and body horror, because you're going to get some of that, and while it's very effective, it's unlikely to be enough to carry gorehounds through the choreographed dance sequences. How do you feel about Cold War era politics? I think you get the idea.

The film is also full of indulgences, and that can certainly get in the way of your appreciation for the film depending upon your sensibilities. Playing "Who Is Tilda Swinton" is distracting, sure, and a quick look at IMDB verifies that she's not the only actress playing that game with you in Suspiria. There are color-coded subtitles. An enigmatic post-credits stinger also awaits you.

You will either find all of this engaging and intriguing as I did or unbearably pretentious. Ironically, for a film about the reductiveness of binary thinking, Guadagnino's Suspiria is certainly divisive. For the record, I love it, and it's definitely one of my favorites of 2018. It's beautiful and hideous, touching and cruel, everything I want from a genre film.

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