Review: New thriller ‘Suspiria’ isn’t your typical ballet film

Thom Yorke of Radiohead debuts in his first soundtrack for director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of ‘Suspiria’ Although this film seems like a thriller and is an artistic collaboration for indie movie fans, the story is equally as climactic for horror movie fans alike.

A quick disclaimer: this movie is not for the squeamish, and the ladies in this ballet film won’t be dancing the ‘Black Swan.’ Ten minutes into the film and the viewer is instantly greeted with a supernatural and gore-tastic dance number that would make even the most hardened horror-movie buff cringe.

The story is placed during the politically-tense Cold War in Germany, right after the Berlin Wall was built. However, this movie is not a lesson in history.

The predominant story focuses on a prestigious ballet studio, one that the main character, Susie (Dakota Johnson), can only dream of getting into after leaving her home in Ohio. The cold, grey tones of the shots set the ominous mood once Susie reaches Germany.

Each shot is carefully planned, as the director really paid attention to the geometries of the architecture and the symbolism of certain shapes to supplement the occult aesthetic of the movie. Hidden in every arm movement or costume is a faint trace of an upside down pentagram.

Susie steps into the studio, guided by the echoes of her footsteps, and instantly senses that something is different about this establishment. Barely getting an opportunity to audition, Susie hypnotizes the instructors, and the mistresses of the ballet house look at her with a sinister gaze. She is then admitted into the studio.

“Witches!” shouts Olga, a dancer that was originally set to play the lead role for the studio’s production. She storms out of the rehearsal studio to pack her belongings, hoping to find her friend that has mysteriously disappeared from the dance studio in the thick of political rallies. But the vigilant dancer’s escape wasn’t as swift as she planned.

Our protagonist, Susie, quickly fills the lead role, and she presents her talents not only in dance but in a supernatural ritual that Susie took part in unknowingly.

Our fleeing character, Olga, is guided into a nearby dance studio. Invisible whispering voices reel her into a mirror-lined room, and she is soon locked in. Susie begins to dance, and Olga’s body is contorted to parallel Susie’s dance number.

Telepathically, every thrust of Susie’s aggressive frappé and allonge sends Olga to bend over backwards, and Olga is configured into a shape that is unlike any human body. Immediately, the viewer is aware that there is a hidden agenda behind the ballet studio’s walls, and the dance number is the guiding force to their dark hidden plans.

The main selling point of the movie prior to its release is the soundtrack by Yorke. If you are going in expecting a full-length soundtrack that is supplemented by Yorke’s haunting voice, you may need to look a little further for the redeeming factors of this score.

Yorke’s piano numbers are juxtaposed with the film’s elegant and chilling shots, such as the moment where Susie is forced to dream certain images by her ballet instructor, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton).

In these dream sequences, there is a push-and-pull of images and sounds. For example, the charm of the melodic piano organs play while a mirror crashes on the floor without the sound of a crash, or the same music-box melody being played to the visuals of maggots and human organs.

This movie combines the artistry of an award-winning director, a soundtrack by the lead singer of Radiohead and an all-star cast. “Suspiria” is an artistic collaboration with great attention to detail and cinematography, and the storyline reaches a level of taste that tilts on the edge of taboo.

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