Don’t call it a remake. According to director Luca Guadagnino, the new Suspiria is an “homage” to the life-altering emotions he experienced when he first saw Dario Argento’s film in 1977. Tilda Swinton takes it one step further explaining that the film she’s involved in is completely different from the original. Whatever the case, based on what little we’ve seen so far, our excitement surrounding Guadagnino excursion into the dark halls of a mysterious Berlin dance academy has reached a fever pitch.
Reports from this year’s CinemaCon indicate that Suspiria is an incredibly disturbing encounter that had several audience members running for the exit. The Suspiria twitter account has promised for the past several days that the internet is not ready for their new trailer. The marketing team is working overdrive on this one, and they’ve captured our fervor.
The new trailer has a lot of hype to maintain. Let’s see if they pull it off, shall we?
Whoa. Ok. Not a bloody mess. While we get a little more in terms of plot, Guadagnino is still keeping this film close to the vest. Yet, for all their talk about this Suspiria being a totally different entity from Argento’s film, there is plenty of narrative tissue connecting the two. Also, there is something like 2 billion shots packed away inside the 2 minutes and 36 seconds. Time to dig in.
Here is a quick first shot to kick things off. A male hand sporting a wedding band reaches under a table to flick a switch.
A psychiatrist’s “Ongoing Session” light ignites.
A pang of Thom Yorke’s score reverberates down a dark hallway. At the end of the passage, we can see the session light. A rush of multiple moans fills the corridor. The voice of Chloë Grace Moretz explains her character’s predicament, “At the beginning, she gave me things.”
Dr. Jozef Kemperer listens to his client’s woes, taking notes. Moretz leans against his bookshelf continuing her thought, “Perfect balance. Perfect sleep.” Kemperer is played by first-time actor Lutz Ebersdorf…well, maybe. More on that later.
A green phantom rushes over a sleeping woman. Moretz fears that this supernatural force is consuming her.
Curled on her doctor’s couch, she whimpers, “What if she wants to get inside of me?”
“I can feel her.” The doctor’s hand flips through a notebook. Does it belong to Moretz, or is it his own? We see a collection of names all connecting to a Madame Blanc in the middle. The names are a combination of teachers and students at the prestigious Markos Dance Academy in Berlin. Fans of the original film will be immediately suspicious.
“She can see me.” Tilda Swinton, cloaked in a green aura very similar to that of the phantom, appears as Madame Blanc.
Dakota Johnson’s Susie Bannion arrives in Berlin. She races through some dreary weather to the dance academy. Although Wikipedia and IMDB refer to the school under the name of Markos, the name of the building is that of the school from the ’77 Suspiria.
Madame Blanc addresses her students, “When you dance the dance of another, you make yourself in the image of its creator.” Susie dances solo in front of a leering crowd, throwing herself into the audition. Her audience barely reacts to her stunning display of ability.
Madame Blanc drifts towards the camera. The first of many shots cut to emphasize a showdown between student and teacher.
A young Susie is found hiding in a closet. What is there to be scared of?
A shimmering apparition hovers in the middle of a doorframe. Susie utters a nervous giggle, “I feel like I’m not even here yet.” She’s taken her first grasp at a career of superior talent. She will regret that.
Mia Goth’s Sara tells Susie that Madame Blanc is incredible. We see a shot of Blanc orchestrating her students while Susie observes from the corner. The dance is an organism itself.
Sara seems to be convincing herself as much as Susie regarding the talent of the headmistress. Just watch how she “transmits her work…”
Madame Blanc in mid-transmission. Although, she appears to be receiving rather than relaying.
This poster reveals more than just the date of their next performance. The Markos Academy is part of the Tanz Group. The art is a pagan symbol of one hand passing through another, each one sporting an eye in the center of the palm. The image should give the students pause.
The other teachers of the Markos Academy gather before Madame Blanc. They’re all ears, eager to follow orders. In the background, we see another performance poster for one Helena Markos a.k.a. the Mother of Sighs. Guadagnino might not be making a remake of Argento’s film, but he’s directly referencing the Three Mothers trilogy (Suspiria, Inferno, and The Mother of Tears).
Moretz states, “There is more in that building than what you can see” as Dr. Kemperer gazes at a wall of missing person posters. In the center, he spots his former patient. To the left of the missing poster is a news article with the headline, “Murder begins with an evil word.”
A good chunk of Susperia’s mystery surrounds newcomer Lutz Ebersdorf, and a quick glance at his IMDB page offers a few clues to the reality of his performance. Not only is Susperia his first onscreen role, the photo attached to his page really doesn’t look at all like the actor we see here. Speculation that Ebersdorf is actually Tilda Swinton caked in latex runs rampant across the internet. Are they two separate characters, or one nefarious creature?
The students of the Markos Academy have given themselves fully to the dance, marked by woven red pentagrams on their chests.
The Markos spell has fallen upon Susie. The dance has her.
Dr. Kemperer tells Sara that she’s living with dangerous people. Be afraid, be very afraid.
The now infamous curved metal hook makes its first appearance in the new trailer. Some unseen hand drops it upon a tea table. The hook rattles as do our nerves.
A student raises the hook high into the air and plunges it offscreen. Both trailers for Suspiria show considerable restraint regarding gore, but based on what we’ve been hearing, the final product will showcase plenty of bloodshed. The hook will most definitely pierce flesh.
Dr. Kemperer and the audience read from his journal, “…the three mothers – that have always been there. Bigger than everything and more important. Mother Tenebrarum, Mother Lachrymarum, Mother Suspiriorum. And today there is only her, one of them and at the same time not…Mother Markos of shadow, over my story. Thunder Sunday, was out for a walk…”
Kemperer whispers, “Three mothers. Three gods. Three devils.”
A demonic hand in need of a serious manicure reaches out from the shadows.
Susie and Madame Blanc square off against each other during the audition process.
Dr. Kemperer continues, “Darkness, tears, and sighs.” A student, screaming and sobbing, is hurled against a mirror by invisible forces. The sound of her pain fades as bones crunch.
Sara confronts Susie in the hallway, “You’ve made some kind of deal with them.” Susie responds, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sara seeks answers out on her own, knocking against the ballet mirrors. Ear to the wall, listening. She finds a secret passage.
After a rapid succession of surrealistic, creepy horror movie images (slo-mo horses, fingernails scraping hardwood, and a camera rotating around a pair of gray lips), we catch a glimpse of Susie and Madame Blanc performing the gestures of an unknown ritual. This split diopter shot may reveal partners rather than opponents.
“It’s all a mess…” Bring on the full-nightmare imagery. We see a writhing nude body scrambling on the floor. Are they missing a foot?
The demonic claw from before belongs to this slithering beast. Its skin appears burned.
Uh-oh. Nazis. Now we’re in real trouble. It’s worth noting that the book belongs to Anke, who is played by Jessica Harper, the original film’s protagonist.
The power of the dance has given Sara the ability to scrabble up door frames.
We catch a quick shot of Madame Blanc’s climactic coven. Her students are tangled inside a cluster of flesh worthy of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.
An old man, who may or may not be Dr. Kemperer, wiggles on the same red tile where the demon stretched. He’s looking upwards in terror as a dark shadow looms above him.
The Suspiria trailer climaxes with that gnarly hook again. Guadagnino has found his iconography and he wants all of us to know it. The trailer is a rapid collage of panic and dread. The director seems to have struck that perfect balance of originality and respect for the source. I’m sold.
Suspiria will premiere at the Venice Internation Film Festival before hitting theaters in the United States on November 2nd.