SUSPIRIA Violated My Soul

Every year there is a messed up horror flick that is totally f**ked up. There was THE WITCH, MOTHER and HEREDITARY over the last couple of years. All slow-build movies that have a climax so disturbed it makes you consider visiting a church and getting a blessing. Then along comes SUSPIRIA, another slow build horror, it’s basically BLACK SWAN meets HEREDITARY but a remake of a 70s horror film – the climax makes THE WITCH, MOTHER and HEREDITARY look like children’s romcoms. I needed to bathe in holy water afterwards and watch a Disney film to get my soul back from hiding under the metaphorical bed.

But the good news is, it’s out now. It’s on limited release and I highly recommend it for cinephiles and lovers of messed up horror. Transmission Films released it, it runs for 153 long minutes and it’s rated MA15+.



Academy Award nominee Luca Guadagnino (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) directs an unsettling and original take on the 1977 cult horror classic SUSPIRIA. Young American dancer Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Company, stunning the troupe’s famed choreographer, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), with her raw talent.

When she vaults to the role of lead dancer, Olga, the previous lead, breaks down and accuses the company’s female directors of being witches. As rehearsals intensify for the final performance of the company’s signature piece, Susie and Madame Blanc grow strangely close, suggesting that Susie’s purpose in the company goes beyond merely dancing. Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist trying to uncover the company’s dark secrets enlists the help of another dancer, who probes the depths of the studio’s hidden chambers.


Suspiria Dakota Johnson image
Dakota Johnson



Luca Guadagnino, the director of my favourite movie of 2017, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, purchased the rights to the SUSPIRIA story in the early 2000s. He was always onboard as a producer and in 2008 Natalie Portman was even set to star, no doubt because of her performance in BLACK SWAN. Eventually it was announced that Guadagnino would direct following completion of The Peach F**ker, and so filming began in 2016. From what I have read Dakota Johnson started prepping for the role in 2014, she went through two full years of ballet training for her performance in SUSPIRIA and it shows vibrantly in her dance scenes.

SUSPIRIA cements Guadagnino’s status as a master filmmaker, backing up CALL ME BY YOUR NAME with something so unique (even for a remake), and terrifying, just gives cause for applause. His Italian style and the art direction is even more terrifying because it feels foreign and therefore more removed from any comfort zone. It will always be for me one of the most horrific horrors I have seen, it is an evil movie, did Guadagnino sell his soul to make this movie? Perhaps, that end scene looks like an orgy picnic in Dante’s Hell.


Suspiria The Teachers image
Angela Winkler as Miss Tanner, Ingrid Caven as Miss Vendegast, and Reneé Soutendijk as Miss Huller



SUSPIRIA sends the tiny hairs standing up on the back of your neck warning you to flee. It is a repulsive trip into a feminist coven of witches; not your flying on a broom witches, satanic witches that will eat you for breakfast because their demons demand it. I am still uneased. But like MOTHER this is one of the reasons I love it so much. It made me think, it visually stunned and it has Tilda, not once but thrice. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot. Besides the fact I think I am now possessed by a scary she devil who will feed on my soul for eternity, the film drags. it is about thirty minutes too long and the middle had a dead section that wasn’t necessary.

Besides that it is heavy on the styling of a lot of auteristic substance, the plot is confusing enough. I yearned for more clarity, instead we ended up with a MOTHER-like ending that requires a university masters on the film to work out. I looked it up to fix my confusion – if you want an explanation that is a lot clearer than the movie have a read >>> HERE. The styling itself is more subdued than the 1977 original. Where that relied on harsh primary colour palettes this went more wintery in tones save for the end scenes that suitably required a lot of hellish red.

If Guadagnino dropped 30mins and removed a few of the subplots littered throughout the movie this would have been my #1 movie of the year. The moments of cinematic genius got bogged down in the grandiose display of art.


Suspiria Tilda Swinton image
Queen Tilda Swinton



But my god this movie is packed with talent. Music composed by Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, the stunning and clever lensing from Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (who also filmed CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) and a cast worthy of worship. Oh wait, I already worship Queen Tilda, a goddess of cinema, she is almost inhuman, both terrifying and enchanting. She takes it to a whole new level in SUSPIRIA. She plays three of the characters, Madame Blanc, a famed choreographer, Dr. Josef Klemperer, an elderly man – to perfect this role she insisted on wearing a prosthetic penis the entire time, and the third I shall leave as a grotesque surprise. No idea why Tilda went with three roles that could easily have been played by others but it works and she is a genius at anything she does.

The supporting cast are all superb, with special mentions to Mia Goth, Chloë Grace Moretz and all the witches – bloody terrifying!

Finally, Dakota Johnson, she nailed her performance. Her dancing, her innocence and her screen presence was the perceived lamb to the Tilda slaughter. Easily her best performance that will hopefully wash that 50 SHADES CRAP from her career. She really gave it her all for this and bravo bravo bravo!


Suspiria The Dancers image
The Dancers



SUSPIRIA is a cinephiles’ movie. This is not a movie for date night, not one to take your mum to and not something you will be desperate to view multiple times. It is a few edits from perfect cinema but will repulse, terrify and confuse viewers. If you do head to the cinema to view this fill your water bottle with holy water from a church, see it in the middle of the day and be with friends after because Madame Suspiria wants to feed on you!





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.