On this busy last day of CinemaCon I went to Amazon's presentation specifically because I was hoping to see something from the Suspiria remake.
Dario Argento's original is considered by many to be a true masterpiece of horror. From a production design, tone and music standpoint it's hard to disagree with that. Argento's gothic, colorful movie about witchcraft at a dance school gets under the skin.
Over the years a few different directors have approached this project, like David Gordon Green. His movie didn't happen, but he ended up with Halloween, so don't feel too bad for him. Luca Guadagnino is the one who was able to get this remake off the ground.
He's an interesting choice for this. He's known for very emotionally charged dramas, most recently Call Me By Your Name. The fact that he's following that sensitive gay romance drama with frickin' Suspiria is bonkers by itself. What's even more bonkers is he shot Suspiria BEFORE he did Call Me By Your Name.
But what the hell was a Suspiria remake going to look like? Well, today I got to see a little piece of it and it was sure something.
The footage was graphic, brutal and a little mean. That's a good thing, by the way. Guadagnino ties witchcraft to dance, which is interesting. The footage began with a girl trapped in a mirrored room and then cuts to Dakota Johnson's character about to practice a dance for her instructor, the great Tilda Swinton.
As Johnson does her routine, her movements have an impact on the poor girl trapped in the mirrored room. I didn't get the impression that Johnson knew the connection was there, but the more intense her dance got the more damage she was doing to the girl in the mirrored room. With each jerk of the Johnson's arms or twist of her body the girl is thrown around the room, her limbs contorting in unnatural ways, bones cracking, jawbone slowly dislocating, until it culminates with Johnson finishing her dance and the girl is left a crumpled, drooling ball of twisted legs, arms and torso.
When I say the footage was mean, I'm not kidding. This scene went on for a long while. Maybe three or four minutes long and when it ends the girl in the mirrored room isn't dead. Oh no. She should be, but that mound of body parts is hitching for breath, drool spilling out of her broken mouth.
Tonally that was right on. Visually it was radically different from Argento's movie. It's a good thing that Guadagnino isn't copying the original, but his choice seems to be to go in the complete opposite direction.
The footage I saw was stark
and almost colorless. The walls and floor were white, the clothing
was all muted, light colors.
I only saw one little sequence, so who knows if he gets crazier with the colors later in the movie, but I don't see how you remake Suspiria and don't, you know, use color. That's like doing Superman without John Williams' score or a Jaws movie without a shark.
That said, the most important thing for Guadagnino to nail is tone and boy did he.