‘Suspiria’ reviews: Is the horror remake ‘grotesque,’ ‘horrible,’ ‘breathtaking,’ ‘rapturous,’ ‘feminist’ or all of the above?

An acclaimed, Oscar-nominated auteur takes a sharp left turn into the world of bizarre, metaphorical horror. The October 26 release of Luca Guadagnino‘s “Suspiria” does feel like a little bit of history repeating, since you could have said the same about last year’s “Mother!” from Darren Aronofsky. But is Guadagnino’s horror spectacle just as divisive as “Mother!” was? Yes, yes it is.

As of this writing the film has a MetaCritic score of 68 based on 34 reviews and a Rotten Tomatoes freshness rating of 72% based on 81 reviews. That’s a mostly positive critical response, but the individual reviews run the gamut from rapturous to repulsed. As the Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus says, it’s “daringly confrontational — and definitely not for everyone” — that’s putting it mildly.

An unlikely followup to Guadagnino’s Oscar-winning romance “Call Me by Your Name,” “Suspiria” is a reimagining of the 1977 horror classic of the same name by Dario Argento. It follows Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson), an American dancer accepted into an elite German dance company that is secretly run by a coven of witches who have sinister plans for her. That includes artistic director Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), whom Susie is eager to impress.

The film is being described as “grotesque, political, radically feminine,” “gorgeous, hideous, and uncompromising” — and that’s just by one critic. It’s also both “horrible” and “breathtaking” at the same time. But not everyone is complimentary. The 152-minute epic is also considered “distended” and “hollow” by some. Will moviegoers like it? Well, at the very least they probably won’t be bored.

Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow movie fans in our forums.

Emily Yoshida (Vulture): “I wish a woman had been empowered and/or inspired to take a crack at Dario Argento’s iconic but deeply flawed witch tale. But I love Luca Guadagnino’s grotesque, political, radically feminine (feminist? We’ll get to that later) interpretation … ‘Suspiria’ is a gorgeous, hideous, uncompromising film, and while it seeks to do many things, settling our minds about the brutality of the past and human nature is not one of them.”

Britt Hayes (ScreenCrush): “It is impossible to discuss the rapturous, experiential masterpiece that is Guadagnino’s ‘Suspiria’ without dedicating this much space to its thematic density. It’s not a film one considers, but excavates, continually finding additional symbols and meaning within the deceptively simple setting … It is horrible. It is breathtaking.”

Jessica Kiang (The Playlist): “‘Suspiria’ … is this Venice’s ‘mother!’ in that it will rip the critical corpus apart from the chest out, will likely receive an F Cinemascore and will get a review here that is essentially me writhing around on its slick, gory parquet floors scrawling superlatives on the wall-mirrors in its blood and bashing myself to livid euphoric oblivion against my own distorted reflection. (I loved it, in case I’m not clear).”

Manohla Dargis (New York Times): “This time, he seems more interested in making you recoil while also saying Something. What precisely he wants to say amid all the carefully choreographed bloodletting and disembowelment chic is unclear … As the first hour of ‘Suspiria’ grinds into the second and beyond (the movie runs 152 minutes), it grows ever more distended and yet more hollow.”

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