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Everything You Need to Know Before You Watch ‘Suspiria’

Some horror remakes are shameless cash grabs, but this one looks different. In fact, we hesitate to even call it a remake.
Amazon Studios
By  · Published on October 25th, 2018

Most horror classics have been remade already, so it was only a matter of time before Dario Argento’s 1977 masterpiece about a ballet school run by witches received the treatment. Surprisingly, Suspiria is the first Argento movie to be given a redo for modern times, but we all knew it was going to happen eventually. I’m sure it won’t be the last, either. Some people would argue that there are movies that can never be remade. For many a horror aficionado, the works of Argento fall into this bracket.

But that’s not the world we live in. This is happening. I’ve discussed why this new version deserves to be given a chance in the past, and I stand by that opinion. Besides, under the supervision of a visionary creator, new takes on established material can prove to be as worthwhile as the films that came before.

Suspiria looks like one remake (for lack of a better word) that isn’t out to soullessly cash in on Argento’s marvel, so I remain optimistic. Between this and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, this October is wonderfully witchy. Both look rather spellbinding and will hopefully live up to high expectations. Anyway, with this in mind, here’s everything you need to know about Suspiria before you see the movie:

Luca Guadagnino Directed the New Version

This remake isn’t being helmed by some slouch or director-for-hire. Luca Guadagnino is the real deal. His movies attract awards buzz and garner critical acclaim, as evidenced by last year’s Call Me By Your Name. Therefore, if any redo is in good hands, it’s Suspiria.

Guadagnino wasn’t the first director to accept the job, though. At one point David Gordon Green was attached, and he even cast Isabelle Huppert and Isabelle Fuhrman. But that fell through. Like Green and his latest mega-hitHalloween, however, Suspiria will mark Guadagnino’s first foray into the horror genre. I’m excited to see how he approaches the frightening side of the cinematic spectrum.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about how the director approaches his craft, check out his filmmaking tips.

Don’t Expect a Remake

Guadagnino has big expectations to live up to, given that Argento’s film is one of the most beloved and unique horror films of all time. That said, title aside, one of the stars, Tilda Swinton, has stated that the new Suspiria is not out to replace its predecessor. She told Allocine last year (translation formerly quoted via Google Translate):

“It’s inspired by the same story, but it goes in different directions, it explores other reasons. It’s semantics, of course, but I think people really have to understand that this is not a remake, because the word ‘remake’ gives the impression that we want to erase the original, and the opposite is what we tried to do.”

Additionally, the film’s visual palette is much different from Argento’s film, which is known for its use of primary colors. The new movie, on the other hand, is mostly shades of grey. In an interview with Variety, he described his version as “winter-ish, evil, and really dark.” Check out the trailer and see for yourself.

By now, we’ve already seen enough of Guadagnino’s work to know that he’s not interested in repeating history. He’s an artistically motivated filmmaker with his own stories to tell, so when he says this isn’t anything like the previous version, we can trust him. Whether that’s for better or worse remains to be seen. You can trust our own Rob Hunter, though, who wrote that the new movie is “more of a rebirth.”

The Cast Is Impressive

Dakota Johnson, who previously starred in Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, will play the lead. She’ll be joined by Guadagnino regular Swinton, plus Mia GothChloe Grace Moretz, and Doris Hick. On top of that, fans of Argento’s cult hit will appreciate the inclusion of Jessica Harper, who was the lead in the original. That’s a bewitching line-up right there.

Furthermore, Swinton plays multiple roles, one of them an elderly dude. The rumors were circulating in movie circles for months, but she recently put them to bed in an interview with The New York Times. When asked if she played an 82-year-old male, she responded with an “unequivocal yes.” Maybe she’s trolling, but maybe she isn’t?

Thom Yorke Composed the Score

Goblin’s score for the original Suspiria is as iconic as the film itself. When most of us picture the movie in our heads, that hypnotic prog-rock theme tends to accompany it. Go on…try it. Whoever stepped up to make the music for this one had an arduous task on their hands from the get-go.

Fortunately, the musician to step up to the plate was none other than Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. Whether you love or hate his band, you have to admit his career has proven that he’s a versatile musician that refuses to be boxed into one particular style. He approaches every project with bold ideas in mind, so in that sense he’s an excellent choice for this flick. Plus, from what we’ve heard thus far, his score is excellent in its own right.

It’s a Long Movie

The original Suspiria clocks in at a brisk 98 minutes. The new one, however, is almost double that. The run-time for Guadagnino’s latest is a whopping 152 minutes, so make sure you bring enough popcorn to last the duration.

In the current mainstream landscape, that’s a bold move for a horror movie. Even if Suspiria isn’t to everyone’s liking — and it won’t be — you can at least admire its refusal to pander to trends. However, if the movie is a success, maybe we’ll see more mainstream genre fare that requires some patience before we reap the bloody rewards.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.