It’s so common to find remakes that simply regurgitate the original, that it feels churlish to knock one that swings for the fences, even if the attempt goes just foul. Luca Guadagnino revisits Dario Argento 1977 horror classic, and keeps the basic set-up of an American dancer (Dakota Johnson) newly-arrived in Germany. Here, Johnson’s Susie Bannion is an aspiring professional, joining the professional company led by Mme. Blanc (Tilda Swinton) and discovering mysterious goings-on. Unlike the original, this version doesn’t play coy about the dark conspiracy afoot, and while Guadagnino doesn’t opt for Argento’s early-and-often spilling of fluorescent blood, there is some deeply disturbing body horror. This is also a story that mines its 1977 Berlin setting for a tale of reckoning with the legacy of fascism, while simultaneously hinting at an allegory for the need to believe women about tales of abuse. Where does that potentially rich vein of social commentary fit in with the weird and deeply grotesque grand finale? Hell if I could tell you, but maybe it’s enough that Guadagnino crafts a remake that feels wildly—if unevenly—original.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Producer: Luca Guadagnino, David Kajganich, Francesco d'Eril, Marco Morabito, Gabriele Moratti, William Sherak, Bradley Fischer, Silvia Fendi, Carlo Antonelli, Lauren Beck, Josh Godfrey, Stella Savino, Kimberly Steward, James Vanderbilt and Massimiliano Violante
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler, Ingrid Caven, Elena Fokina, Sylvie Testud, Renée Soutendijk, Chloë Moretz, Jessica Harper, Christine Leboutte, Malgosia Bela and Fabrizia Sacchi