UPDATE: Entertainment Weekly is reporting that original SUSPIRIA star Jessica Harper will appear in the new remake of SUSPIRIA! Original article as follows.
For the last several years, there have been numerous rumblings of remaking Dario Argento’s 1977 cult horror masterpiece SUSPIRIA. At one point, David Gordon Green (JOE, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) was set to be at the helm. More recently, filmmaker Luca Guadagino, the director of A BIGGER SPLASH and I AM LOVE, has taken on SUSPIRIA as a passion project. Variety reported last week that the primary cast has finally been assembled. Chloe Moretz (KICK-ASS, CARRIE), Dakota Johnson (50 SHADES OF GREY), Tilda Swinton (ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, DOCTOR STRANGE) and Mia Goth will star with Guadagino still directing from a script by David Kajganich for Frenesy Film Company and Mythology Entertainment. Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide distribution rights, ala their recent release THE HANDMAIDEN. So, after all these years, it seems like SUSPIRIA is in fact finally going to be remade. And you know what? It’s not a big deal.
Yes, I’m completely aware of how important and celebrated the original film is. It’s considered Dario Argento’s quintessential horror film, and often the one cited as his absolute best. But much like THE EXORCIST (which recently made the appropriate jump to TV series), it’s an impossible film to remake.
A few months back, the Cinefamily hosted a handful of screenings of an original technicolor print of SUSPIRIA and it was my first time experiencing the film on the big screen. I’ve always loved and appreciated it at home on the various VHS and DVD releases it’s gotten over the years. But seeing it in the way it was originally intended to be seen truly showcased the power of the film. It is a visual and audio assault on all the senses. The vibrant, unnatural colors; the extremely loud and jarring score – it plays like a nightmare. And for this, it is one of the most unique pieces of horror cinema ever orchestrated.
As a piece of art, it is like nothing else. However, when it comes to its plot, it’s not exactly clear or streamlined. When it comes to the acting, it’s not exactly stellar top notch performances. I’m not in any way, shape or form putting down the original movie, but it’s been 40 years and it is absolutely a product of its time; a slice of late 70’s Italian horror that can never be replicated. But there’s no reason this story can’t be retold in a way that’s slightly more coherent or different than in the original film.
Look, remakes are nothing new. And at this point, just about every single horror title, both well-known and obscure has already been remade. So, we know that there can only be a finite number of outcomes here. It can be a great new telling of an already great tale ala THE THING, THE FLY, MANIAC, THE HILLS HAVE EYES or DAWN OF THE DEAD. Or it can be a terrible carbon copy that misses the point of the original entirely, the way A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, MARTYRS, HALLOWEEN or PSYCHO did. It might just be a fun, no harm no fowl remake in line with MY BLOODY VALENTINE or PIRANHA 3D. But regardless of what comes out next year, nothing can ever take away from the power of the original SUSPIRIA. So, there’s no point getting upset at a new version of it coming out.
If anything, it’ll give people a chance to discover and celebrate the original. Just this morning, Synapse Films announced pre-orders for their highly anticipated release of Dario Argento’s PHENOMENA. They’ve already acquired the rights to do a U.S. Blu-Ray full restoration of SUSPIRIA, which has been in-the-works for a while now, so no doubt, it’s probably on queue as their next release. Pretty soon, we’re getting a proper top-notch high def home video release of the original SUSPIRIA and that’s cause for celebration.
If you’re curious to see something in the same spiritual vein as SUSPIRIA that is not a remake of it, might I suggest Lucky McKee’s sophomore flick THE WOODS, currently available on Blu-Ray through Olive Films. The IMDB synopsis of SUSPIRIA: “A newcomer to a fancy ballet academy gradually comes to realize that the school is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of grisly murders.” The IMDB synopsis of THE WOODS: “Set in 1965 New England, a troubled girl encounters mysterious happenings in the woods surrounding an isolated girls school that she was sent to by her estranged parents.” And it also stars Bruce Campbell, so bonus.
We’re collectively survived just about every single conceivable horror remake I can think of, so we can survive this one. Or at least cautiously approach it with an open mind. Basically, they’re remaking SUSPIRIA. But… who cares? You can never truly remake Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA.