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First Reactions: Suspiria

We open with the chilling score which immediately unsettles us, the music is high-pitched, eerie and disturbing, like a wailing wind. The medium shot of Dakota Johnson clasping her hand over her heart, wearing a pained expression only heightens the feeling of unease. She takes a deep breath, and the camera zooms in tighter on her, and her expression changes to a peaceful one, but something tells me that the peace won’t last for long.

The next shot is a high angle shot of Tilda Swinton smoking, we peer down at her and it feels imposing, something or someone is watching her. We see an old man (Lutz Ebersdorf) walking up a path, and we are wondering how he is connected to the story.

The close up shot of clasping hands with a black background accompanied with Thom Yorke makes for a disturbing image, do these hands belong to someone praying or will these hands commit a more sinister act? The graceful movement of Johnson’s bare feet dancing across the floorboards, coupled with the high angle shot of her spinning look hypnotic to watch unfold on-screen, and it is clear that the two years she has spent training for this role has paid off, she looks and moves like a professional.

A group of women in an office sit around, smoking and waiting, dressed in 70s fashion, and it would appear that director Luca Guadagnino has kept the film’s set in the 1970s. The screen goes black and we see a technicolor ‘S’ appear, filling up the entire screen, more letters will follow to spell out the film’s title.


The shot of Johnson moving around in her bed at night, gasping slightly with her lips parted looks slightly erotic, but is she actually having a night terror? Shots of wild horses, imply that these animals are fleeing from something unseen and unknown by humans. The swirling camera above the open mouth of a sleeping woman, creates a dizzying and unnerving feeling, as we continue to build on the feeling of dread and despair. At this point the trailer picks up speed, and we see a flurry of images and shots.

Certain quick shots imply the murder, and the chaos to come: the shot of a women’s hands bond in rope, a police noticeboard full of missing people posters, a hanging white sheet with the red (bloody?) outline of a body, the eerie shot of young girls laughing and skipping into the darkness of the night, dancers falling, curled up bodies in cupboards, maggots…and so on…What does it all mean? Only time will tell.

My first impression is eagerness, and anticipation. Often I find remakes to be dull affairs, but this one seems to take what worked from the original film and expand on it to create something that is as equally disturbing. Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria looks to be a film which will chill us to the very soul, although it lacks the Technicolor splendor of the original, the haunting beauty of the first film has not be forgotten. Overall, this has certainly made a good impression and I am very keen to see Suspiria, although it is more than likely that I will be having many sleepless nights to come.


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