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Film / Suspiria (2018)

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"It's all a mess. The one out there...the one in here...the one that's coming. Why is everyone so ready to think the worst is over?"
Susie Bannon

Suspiria is a 2018 supernatural horror film directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by David Kajganich, starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, and Mia Goth among others, with music composed by Thom Yorke. It is a very loose remake of the 1977 Dario Argento classic of the same name.

In 1977 West Berlin, Susie Bannon (Dakota Johnson) is a young American woman studying at one of the most renowned dance schools in the world: the Markos Tanz Company. As her skills gain the attention of head artistic director and choreographer Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), a series of mysterious disappearances occurs, leading Susie, her friend Sara (Mia Goth), and the grieving elderly psychologist Dr. Josef Klemperer ("Lutz Ebersdorf" note ) towards an investigation into the school that reveals dark secrets that the instructors likely wished to remain hidden.


Guadagnino's Suspiria takes the original's story and atmosphere in a wholly different direction, changing its setting to the same year the original was released and eschewing its famous exaggerated color schemes for bleak, wintry tones, among other modifications. He has described the film as an homage to the emotions he felt watching the original more than an explicit remake of it.

Suspiria contains examples of:

  • The '70s: The German Autumn of 1977 is a background event for the plot thread concerning Patricia and her disappearance from the academy. The Berlin Wall is prominent in nearly every exterior shot.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Suzy in the original had dark brown hair, while Susie in the remake is a redhead.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Susie. She violently takes over the coven at the end of the film and may have been a witch the whole time. On the other hand, her civil treatment of Dr. Klemperer and expelling the more heinous witches of the coven puts her more in an Adaptational Badass role.
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  • Ambiguous Situation: Was Susie an ambitious-if-naïve dancer who was corrupted by the coven's magic into becoming a vessel for Mother Suspiriorum even before the Volk ritual was completed, or was she Mother Suspiriorum the whole time, and used the events of the movie as a way to prove who was loyal to her and exact revenge on those who weren't?
  • And I Must Scream: Patricia, Olga, and Sara being put in intense Body Horror situations. The worst part is they are still dancing against their will while injured horribly. Sara was even disemboweled and was still standing like nothing happened.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Susie becomes Mater Suspiriorum and defeats Markos and her cohorts with the help of Death itself and Madame Blanc survives despite a grievous injury. On the other hand, Patricia, Olga and Sara are dead (though are given graceful Mercy Kills) and Josef Klemperer has his memory wiped by Susie/Suspiriorum as a merciful gesture and to prevent him from exposing the existence of the witches.
  • Body Horror: Oh, mother.
    • A key sequence in the film features Olga having her body violently twisted and her bones broken. The worst part? She's still alive afterwards.
    • Sara literally breaking a leg in the Volk sequence.
    • Helena Markos is an intensely aged, hideously decrepit, naked witch who has a baby's arm sticking out of hers and a baby's face for a vagina.
    • Susie's transformation into Mother Suspiriorum is signified by her forming a massive, gaping, bloody vagina in her chest.
    • Sara, in a trance during the final ritual, being graphically disemboweled, remaining standing and seemingly-unaffected as her intestines are splattered to the ground.
  • Color Wash: The climactic sequence bathes the chaos in a red filter.
  • Composite Character:
    • The remake's version of Sara takes on part of the role filled by the original Susie Bannion, being the one who leads the investigation into the coven.
    • Susie is Mother Suspiriorum in this version.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: Sara switching eye colors with Susie in the Volk sequence. Susie's turn brown.
  • Chromosome Casting: All of the film's significant characters are women except for Dr. Klemperer (who's still played by a woman.)
  • Death by Adaptation: Olga, who simply disappeared from the story in the original film, gets the first prominent death scene in this version.
  • Decomposite Character: Helena Markos and Mother Suspiriorum are two separate entities in this iteration; just who Mother Suspiriorum is becomes a key part of The Reveal (for more info, see Composite Character).
  • Drone of Dread: Hidden between dissonant pianos and Krautrock weirdness, quite a few numbers in Thom Yorke's score love this trope; "The Epilogue" takes the cake for its last minute almost verging on infrasound.
  • Fan Disservice: In the finale, most of the dance company is naked, and Susie is wearing an Absolute Cleavage robe. Even though they're all young and beautiful, however, the jerky, frenetic movements of the dancers (plus the strong implication they can't stop), combined with Susie's Vagina Dentata right between her breasts and the general amount of blood and gore, makes it all very unsexy.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When we first see Susie, she's walking down the stairs of a German train station. The platform on screen left is labeled SUSPIRIA. See it here.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Susie. It's a very different direction compared to the more typical heroine Suzy of the original.
  • Gorn: Hoo boy. Argento would be proud.
  • Homage: Director Luca Guadagnino has described the film as more of an homage to the feelings he had while watching the original movie for the first time as opposed to a strict retelling of the story.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Helena Markos, as mentioned above. She looks like a mass of cancerous growths and has excess, vestigial limbs growing out of her body.
    • How do you one-up Markos? By DEATH ITSELF arriving in the form of a tall, cadaverous woman that can kill with just a kiss.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Much like the original film, the cast is largely female. This was part of the reason for the elaborate production/marketing hoax with Swinton playing the psychologist under heavy makeup and a pseudonym, to include Klemperer's male presence in the story while still keeping the cast almost entirely female.
  • Important Haircut: Susie gets a haircut in preparation for the dance exhibition, symbolizing her growth from ingénue to lead performer.
  • Ironic Echo: "No other mother." First said by "Mother" Markos to Susie. Then re-stated by Mother Suspiriorum as she cleans house of all those who backed Helena.
  • Kiss of Death: Susie seals each request for a Mercy Kill with a kiss. The avatar of Death kills off Markos and her followers the same way, though the way it does so ends in Your Head Asplode with the exception or Markos who seems to have had her soul sucked out with her body beginning to decompose instantly.
  • The Lost Lenore: Anke, who was revealed to have died in the hands of Nazis at Theresienstadt.
  • Mercy Kill: Given to a very willing Patricia, Olga, and Sara at the end, who have been brutally wounded, mutilated and are walking corpses.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Susie, coming to the academy without any knowledge of its goings-on. Allegedly. It's not clear whether or not her ignorance was only an act the whole time.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Susie has two equally bizarre ones that turn out to be Blanc's initial means of telepathically communicating with her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Helena Markos when she realizes that Susie isn't what/who she appears to be.
  • Ominous Walk: During the sabbath Death's avatar just casually strolls around the room, delivering its judgment on Markos' supporters one by one. They don't even try to flee as they know they would never escape Death.
  • One-Word Title: Simply Suspiria.
  • Popularity Cycle: This is how the Markoz Tanz Company or at least the coven part works. The teachers pick a favorite who they use for their spells in exchange for better dance skills before torturing and draining them. This is shown as happening to Patricia, and after Patricia's disappearance, they pick Susie out to be the next victim. But Susie is Mother Suspiriorum.
  • Practical Effects: Most of the gore and Body Horror makes use of these rather than CGI. This behind the scenes video goes into more detail (warning: contains spoilers and NSFW content).
  • Psychic Link: Susie and Blanc form one. Blanc initially creates the bond through planting nightmares in Susie's head, and once she reciprocates the two are able to converse with their thoughts.
  • Remake Cameo: Jessica Harper (the original Suzy) has a small role as Anke.
  • Right in Front of Me: The witches' final ceremony is brought to an abrupt end when Susie asks Markos which of the three mothers she represents. When Markos responds that she has inherited the position of Mother Suspiriorum, Susie responds, "I am she."
  • Sickening "Crunch!":
    • During Olga's horrific torture, several of her bones break.
    • When Sara leaves backstage before Volk, she's punished by holes forming in the floor; her leg falls into one, and it graphically snaps in half.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Thom Yorke's beautiful, forlorn piano-driven song "Unmade" plays as Susie/Mother Suspiriorum, the avatar of Death, strolls around the sabbath chamber killing left and right, giving an otherwise disturbing sequence an air of haunting tragedy.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To the original film, believe it or not. Putting the two films side-by-side is one of the best examples possible of how two filmmakers can take virtually the exact same premise and come away with two radically different takes on it, from their visual styles to the beats of the story and how they progress.
  • The Stinger: Susie is seen touching the heart carved in Klemperer's cottage.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: Klemperer and Anke's cottage has a heart carved into an outside corner, with their initials. The last shot of the film is of the cottage, now occupied by a new family, with the heart faded but still present. Susie is seen touching it at the stinger too.
  • Unconventional Formatting: A poster of an upcoming performance in the film, some of its promotional materials, and even movie tickets make use of randomly aligned letters that look like the words they form just splattered into position. Even their Twitter account liked to invoke this every so often.
  • Your Head Asplode: When Mother Suspiriorum returns to the coven, this happens to every member who had voted to keep Helena Markos in power.


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