What year is it?
(Award season consideration has returned, so my mini-reviews are back as well. Enjoy as I rapid-fire them at you through the end of the year.)
I am not quite sure what to make of Suspiria. On one hand, I found myself nodding off multiple times during the two hour and thirty-two minute run-time. On the other hand, it features scantily clad ballet dancers and witches. On another hand, Dakota Johnson continues to display the acting range of a doorstop. On the fourth hand, there is a brutal scene featuring a helpless woman being contorted into a ballpark pretzel.
The film has some very interesting ideas, but never seems to be able to get its ducks in a row. The basic premise is that a coven of witches run a prestigious dance school. As my Ruthless cohort, Devon Pack, explained in his review, there is no real mystery in this film because we know about the witches at the start of the film. Fairly early in the film, we learn the coven is trying to keep an old mother witch alive and are looking for a girl for the witch to subsume (or eat, or possess; this is never clear). In steps Susie Bannion (Johnson) looking to impress Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) and impressed MME Blanc is. Blanc is also conflicted on if they should sacrifice Susie, as Susie appears to be quite powerful. On the side is Dr. Josef Klemperer (also Tilda Swinton, in old man makeup) investigating the disappearance of one of his patients, Patricia (Chloe Grace Moretz), as well as her claims of the existence of the coven. These three threads never weave together to form a complete whole, as they kind of meander around each other for a while before smashing into each other in the climax. Think about how A Cure for Wellness ended and you get the picture.
If there is one thing to blame for my lack of interest, it is that the movie looks and feels like it was made forty-five years ago by a director fresh out of film school. I am not a big fan of 70s-era film nor am I a fan of movies that explode at the end for no other reason than to make sure the audience is still awake. On top of that, the film is constantly switching languages – from English to German to French and back – that it is possible the film qualifies as a foreign film. I think my final answer is that Suspiria is mostly a flat film that has its moments, but is bogged down by a director who does not know that it is 2018.
Rating: Ask for nine dollars back. The pretzel scene is worth a buck or two.