The first footage of Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of giallo horror classic Suspiria, starring Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Tilda Swinton), already left critics spooked and speechless when it was screened at CinemaCon. The scene, featuring a woman torn apart in a spectacle involving blood, sweat, and urine, as Johnson danced in the next room, was called by one critic "one of the most f---ed up things I've ever seen." Now the first teaser trailer has arrived, and the general public gets its first peek at the buzzed-about movie. While the most gruesome and violent scenes were left out, what we do get is a case study in creepy tension.
Johnson, in a red braided wig that makes her look something like Lindsay Lohan doing a Marina Abramovic impression (though, come to think of it, about half the women in the film seem to be channeling Abramovic in one way or another), plays a young American dancer at a prestigious European dance school. Swinton, playing the headmistress in a gray wig, seems to spend half the trailer attempting to silently plot something evil while chain-smoking. Moretz, meanwhile, dons a choppy mess of a brunette wig to play a student who has suspiciously gone missing.
It's all a slow build of suspense with only a few hints of the mystical creepiness that we assume we should expect from the finished product: bloody silhouettes, hands tied in roped bondage, girls crawling up a door frame, maggots falling on a poor woman's face, and Swinton stabbing herself and seeming to enjoy it. It's intense without giving too much away. No one in the trailer even speaks a word.
American moviegoers who know Guadagnino best from his tender breakthrough Call Me by Your Name may be shocked that this ultraviolent horror fest is his followup to that lingering romance, but sometimes in cinema there's a thin line between building up tension between two people who are about to erupt in mutual passion and two people, as it seems is the case with Swinton and Johnson's characters, who look like they're about to try to literally erupt each other in gory phantasm. In this film, a whole lot more than a peach is going to be violated.
The original 1977 Suspiria, directed by Dario Argento, is regarded as both one of the finest horror movies Italy has ever had to offer and a pioneer of artistic, stylish horror filmmaking. Talks of a remake have bounced around for years, but the timing couldn't be more ripe considering horror is all the rage in art house circles right now (see mother!, The Witch, and Get Out, among others). Guadagnino has said his film isn't so much a direct remake, but rather a homage to the frights and feelings he got when he saw the film the first time as a young boy. So even those who know the original inside out could be in for a scare. Even Dakota Johnson said she had to go to therapy after filming the movie to deal with it all, and she, presumably, had read the script before she signed on.