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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Suspiria, a remake of the classic 1977 horror movie, stars Dakota Johnson and is from Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino. Expect extreme blood and gore, with lots of scary stuff, deaths, stabbing, slicing, and brutal insanity. There are also references to upsetting real-life events going on at the time (1977 Germany), including bombings and people being shot in the head. There are multiple instances of both male and female full-frontal nudity, and language includes uses of "f--k," "c--t," "ass," and "damn." Main characters smoke cigarettes, a character smokes a pipe, and social drinking is shown. The film is quite long and very serious, but its striking, unsettling, nightmarish imagery is sure to impress mature horror fans.
What's the story?
In SUSPIRIA, Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz) bangs on the door of her therapist, Dr. Josef Klemperer ("Lutz Ebersdorf," but really Tilda Swinton in heavy makeup), claiming that terrible things are happening in the Berlin dance academy she attends. Then, Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) arrives in town and learns that there's an open slot in the school; Patricia has disappeared. Susie nails her audition, impressing teacher Madame Blanc (Swinton again). When another dancer disappears, Susie also manages to take over the lead role in the current production. Meanwhile, all of the dancers suffer creepy nightmares. The friendly Sara (Mia Goth) begins poking around in secret rooms of the school and then finds her leg broken during a performance. Dr. Klemperer also starts investigating and finally discovers something truly horrifying.
Is it any good?
This remake runs a full hour longer than Dario Argento's original 1977 horror masterpiece, and it eventually loses its way, but it also has powerful, unsettling imagery that's hard to dismiss. New to the horror genre, Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino seems to hedge his bets with Suspiria. Set in 1977, the movie tacks on many sociopolitical asides, such as frequent radio broadcasts about the Baader-Meinhof Group. And Swinton gives a tour-de-force performance in her heavily made-up role as Klemperer, a Holocaust survivor who mourns his wife. But as the movie drags on, Klemperer has less and less to do with the actual story.
It becomes clear that these things are nothing more than safety nets, decorations to make the movie seem more important. It's a movie about female power, but it turns its focus increasingly toward a man. But in the dance school sequences, the movie becomes genuinely creepy. Nothing scary actually happens for almost an hour, but Guadagnino sets up a nerve-rattling mood with his off-kilter angles and arrhythmic cutting, as well as sets like a mirrored room and dance costumes that look like dripping blood. And when the time comes to ramp up the gore, he doesn't hold back. Often the nightmare imagery can leave you wondering what's going on, and it's certainly far too serious to be fun -- it's no match for the original -- but Guadagnino's vision can hardly be called ineffective.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Suspiria's violence and gore. How did it affect you? Did it make you squeal or squirm? How did the filmmakers achieve this effect?
How is nudity used in the film? Is it meant to suggest sex, or is it used for more artistic purposes?
How scary is the movie? What's the appeal of horror movies?
Do you think the movie has a theme of female empowerment? Why or why not?
- In theaters: October 26, 2018
- Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth
- Director: Luca Guadagnino
- Studio: Amazon Studios
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Arts and Dance
- Run time: 152 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing content involving ritualistic violence, bloody images and graphic nudity, and for some language including sexual references
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.