There have been enough worthwhile redos of classics to warrant their existence.
Remember when the news broke that Suspiria was being reincarnated by Amazon Studios and people immediately assumed the worst? That’s always the case whenever an iconic movie gets a modern facelift, sure, but Suspiria is unlike most other movies. Why even bother trying to recreate something that’s considered unbeatable and perfect, right? Life is cruel. Nothing is sacred anymore. Hollywood is the devil. Make it stop, etc…
Dario Argento’s cult favorite is a masterpiece. The film’s use of vibrant visuals, colorful interiors, entrancing music, and theatrical deaths makes for one of the most surreal, disorientating, and original works of terrifying art in the history of genre cinema. Remaking it was going to be an arduous task for anyone, but given the film’s status as a bona fide classic, it was always going to happen. That said, when director Luca Guadagnino agreed to direct, the project became more intriguing.
If this teaser is anything to go by, though, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Take a look:
Like the original, the story follows an aspiring dancer who travels to Germany to perfect her craft in a leading academy. But when students begin to disappear, she soon discovers that the school has a dark history involving witchcraft and murder. Spooky shenanigans ensues.
While the basic premise is the same as its predecessor, this looks like something else entirely. Gone is Argento’s exquisite color palette. Gone is the bewitching progressive rock score courtesy of Goblin. This is a much more dour affair, but one that seems just as eerie as its Italian counterpart. Guadagnino isn’t interested in making something that’s derivative of the original; he wants to cast his own deadly spell over us. Early clips have promised “brutality”, but it’s going to take more than blood-letting to win people over. But with talk of Oscar buzz down the line, the filmmakers are clearly confident of capturing our hearts and imaginations.
All the ingredients for a good film are present here. Guadagnino is a talented director with a proven track record when it comes to delivering quality cinema, as he recently demonstrated with Oscar-nominee Call Me By Your Name. While he’s still untested in the horror field, he won’t be the first ‘outsider’ to try his hand at fright fare and knock it out of the park. Jordan Peele and John Krasinski had backgrounds in other genres before they unleashed their own spooky offerings after all. Now they’re two of the most exciting prospects the genre has to offer.
Screenwriter David Kajganich, on the other hand, has already shown that he’s capable of crafting horror tales. In addition to penning the upcoming Pet Sematary remake, he also wrote the underappreciated Blood Creek, a tale of necromancy and Nazi zombies that was directed by Joel Schumacher and stars Michael Fassbender, Henry Cavill, and the dude from Prison Break who played Dracula in Blade: Trinity. Like Guadagnino, Kajganich is a talent on the rise. Together, they might make magic happen.
The movie also boasts an impressive cast which includes Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jessica Harper, and Mia Goth. What a line-up. I’ve yet to see a Swinton movie where she hasn’t scared me to some degree, so I’m pleased that she’s on board for this. Furthermore, this could also be the movie that enables Johnson to transcend the 50 Shades of Grey fluff she’s currently synonymous with. All in all, though, that’s a formidable ensemble.
Based on the aforementioned factors and the teaser, there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Suspiria delivering the goods. Besides, aren’t we past the point of writing remakes off simply because they’re redos of beloved classics? Hasn’t there been enough good ones to dispel the idea that no property should be touched?
When it was announced that Holy Grail horror titles like Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Evil Dead were going to receive the remake treatment, the knee-jerk reaction among the community was mostly negative. The initial response to Suspiria was much the same. Given the high pedestal on which these movies are rightfully placed, it’s understandable why some fans were apprehensive towards a new take. But their redos proved to be quite successful and generally well-received. These days they all boast enough admirers to prove that they struck a chord with enough people to earn a seat at the table.
But aren’t remakes all proof that modern filmmaking is full of creative bankruptcy and lack of new ideas? Some remakes definitely fit this bill (screw you, Cabin Fever), but Guadagnino brings prestige to every project he helms. If anything, this will at least attempt to be its own thing beyond the stylistic changes shown in the trailer.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that Suspiria could be a misfire. Even if it sucks, though, it shouldn’t detract from the fact that history has shown more than once that even the most influential movies of all time can spawn worthy — and sometimes superior — remakes. Maybe fans don’t want them, but not every parent who loves their children wanted them at the start either. Yet they fell in love with them when they escaped the womb and joined the family. The best remakes are like unwanted pregnancies that become a welcome addition to the family that is film. Bear that in mind the next time a new version of something you love gets announced and you’re prepared to write it off straight away.