Tricky things, remakes. In between the love of the original film, and (when it comes to horror at least) it’s contemporary social commentary, they are a difficult thing to get right. Often even admirable attempts don’t work as well purely because the plot doesn’t work in the era they are trying to place it.
The original Suspiria, while clearly influential and sumptuously designed, gives little agency to its young female characters. As a modern viewer seeing it for the first time in my early 30s I found it difficult to get past its flaws enough to fully appreciate the design of it. It was beautiful, but it had a sparse quality, as though the plot was barely formed and underdeveloped.
The Suspiria remake, while paying homage to the original in various scenes, addresses these faults and adds depth to a story that appeals to a modern audience. It also goes to great lengths to pay homage to other 1970s Horrors with framing that mirrors The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. If anything it feels more like one of those films than the film its based on. The political background of 1977 Berlin is played out for all to see, and all of the older German cast are clearly damaged by their experiences of being invaded and torn apart after world war 2. The sparseness of the original plot is transfered here in the production design. Making use of toned down colours and faded paint to fully project a broken and scarred Berlin. This in turn influences their dance, used to its full extent here to add mood to the horror and punctuate the film through routines suspiciously missing from the original.
Time is given for the characters to develop and build relationships, and while being gory at times, it never feels gratuitous. Changes made to the plot increase agency and intrigue and an overwhelming ending probably needs to be seen twice to fully appreciate and understand it.
It’s familiar, but at the same time like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait to watch it again.