The phrase “nothing is sacred” pops up a lot in heated conversations about remaking beloved films, and plans for a remake of horror legend Dario Argento‘s operatic opus Suspiria was one of the projects in recent memory that drew some especially heated ire. And for good reason — the film is a genre classic, often considered the best in the Giallo subgenre, and seemingly too defined the stylistic splendor of its iconic director. And yet, and yet…here comes some news that might just perk up your ears and encourage you give the remake a second chance.
(First up, let’s just address that this should be all taken with a grain of salt for now, considering the report comes from a twitter report. However that twitter account belongs to writer Alex Heller-Nicholas, who literally wrote a book on Suspiria, so adjust that grain of salt accordingly.)
I Am Love helmer Luca Guadagnino took over the project after David Gordon Green‘s long-in-development iteration fell apart. While Guadagnino missed his planned winter 2015 start date, Suspiria still remains high on his list of priorities. While doing the rounds for his latest film, A Bigger Splash, Guadagnino revealed a few details of his spin of Argento’s classic during a Q&A, including the thrilling news he will reteam with actresses Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson.
The director also revealed that he plans to keep the film loyal to the period, setting it in 1977 Berlin, is heavily influenced by revered filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and will hopefully be scored by one of America’s most prominent minimalist composers, John Adams. And that, my friends, is how you turn a frown upside down.
Let’s start with the obvious. Tilda freaking Swinton, the actress who has become a fan-casting favorite for projects that should never work. Anytime an impossible recast comes up, your bound to hear her name. Of course, that’s all due to her chameleonesque ability to disappear into any role, her fearlessness and integrity as an artist and a performer, and a sort of indefinable wonderfullness that transcends words. Simply put, Swinton gives a project instant credibility, and if someone was going to turn a sinister headmistress into a figure of absolute terror, she would be the one (no garuntee that’s who she’ll be playing, but could it really be any other way?). What’s more she has a standing creative collaboration with Guadagnino, a filmmaker whose resume of sumptuous films demonstrates he might just be up to the task of taking on Argento’s dizzying visual and aural design.
And Dakota Johnson is no slouch either. Hell, she almost managed to make Fifty Shades of Grey watchable through the power of pure charm. And while, again, details of their roles aren’t known, she would be an ideal pick for the innocent American ballerina thrust into sinister Occult dance academy.
As for the score, an element of the original that’s just as iconic as the technicolor fever-dream visuals, John Adams’ minimalist classical talents, which were previously put to use on Guadagnino’s I Am Love, couldn’t be further from the nightmarish prog rock soundscape of Goblin’s original score. But that’s not inherently a bad thing. Imitating the best is never going to lead to as interesting results as trying to adapting with an innovative idiosyncratic spin. From the score to the Fassbinder influence, this adaptation might just be strange enough to work. And if you give Adams’ work a listen, it’s not too hard to imagine how his lilting refrains could send chills down your spine as an unwitting innocent wanders into an ominous red room.
That’s a lot to get excited about, though to be fair, Green’s spin on the project lined up a tremendous cast of its own including Isabella Huppert and actually sounded pretty fantastic as well (you can read a description in his interview with Crave), and was met with resistance from fans, financiers, and Argento himself alike.
What say you? Is the promise of Tilda Swinton commanding the forbidding, decadently photographed halls of nefarious ballet academy enough to grab your interest? Or should the project stay on the shelf where it sits? Sound off in the comments below.