Horror fans were enraged last week when it was announced that Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s classic giallo film Suspiria would be lacking the signature color palette that the original film is known for. Predictably, fans of the original were none too pleased with this news, with people in our own comments section spouting out barbs ranging from the satirical (“Suspiria Remake Will Not Be GOOD Like Argento’s Original”) to the intellectual (“sounds retarded”). What people don’t seem to understand is that the remake’s lack of the original’s color palette is actually a good thing and I’m here to tell you why.
Before delving into this, it should be noted that I am not Suspiria‘s biggest fan, but I will try to maintain an unbiased opinion on the matter of Guadagnino’s remake. If you think that completely invalidates my opinion, feel free to stop reading now. I won’t be offended.
Are they gone? Great, let’s get to it. The original Suspiria has two things going for it: its colorful visual style and Goblin’s stellar score. The film is a prime example of style over substance, which is why it has never really resonated with me as a viewer. Take away Argento’s artistry and Goblin’s music and what do you have? A boring movie with a nonsensical plot about a girl wandering the halls of a ballet school. That may sound like a reductive summary of what many consider to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made, but I stand by it.
This is why Guadagnino’s decision to change the visual style of the film is so important (and wise). When you strip Suspiria of the colors and the haunting score, you’re left with a flimsy narrative and an unsatisfying movie. Guadagnino is now forced to make the plot of Suspiria engaging since he will seemingly not be relying on flashy visuals.
To recap the Indiewire interview, Guadagnino’s exact words about his remake were:
It’s a film about guilt and motherhood. It has no primary colors in its color palette, unlike the original. It will be cold, evil and really dark.
Why try to replicate what is arguably (in some people’s eyes) perfect? After all, what is the purpose of a remake? The better question might be: what should the purpose of a remake be? All too often people complain that remakes are “destroying their childhood” or “tarnishing the original.” Those criticisms of a remake don’t hold much weight. The original still exists. It’s not being changed in any way. The worst that comes from a remake is that a younger generation now associates the name of a film to its remake as opposed to the original. A remake should try to adapt a story in a different way. A remake should not merely try to replicate the original. Be honest, do you really want to see Argento’s Suspiria filmed through the eyes of another director? No, you don’t. You should want to see Guadagnino’s Suspiria (if you want to see it at all, that is).
Completely changing the style of Suspiria is the smartest move that Guadagnino could make. If he tried to replicate Argento’s style there would be no point. At best it would be a serviceable copycat a la Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. At worst it would be a shameless and uninspired retread. People are going to complain about the film no matter what, but Guadagnino’s best chance at succeeding is to just do his own thing. People hate change so no one wants to see one of their favorite films change, but then they also don’t want to see it replicated shot-for-shot. Remakes can’t win. It’s a Catch-22. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Remakes are going to be made no matter what. It’s just a fact. I’ve never really understood the hatred for them, as many remakes have turned out surprisingly well. Remakes such as The Thing, The Fly, Sorority Row (yes, I said it), The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre have all managed to stand apart from the films they were based on. They may not have always surpassed the original, but they were good films in their own right. Suspiria has a chance at being a good movie (just look at that cast!), and Guadagnino’s words should inspire hope rather than anger. What do I know though? I’m just the poor schlub who really dislikes the original.
My question to you, dear reader, is what do you think the purpose of a remake should be? Since this remake of Suspiria is inevitable, what do you want to see in the film? What version of this film would actually make you happy? Of course no opinion can be made until the final product is released. A valid fear is that this could turn out like the Martyrs remake (a film that I was lukewarm on but was still able to appreciate the diversions from the source material), where it is unceremoniously dumped on Blu-Ray with no promotion whatsoever.
Suspiria, which was written by David Kajganich (Blood Creek), stars Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie, Let Me In), Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive, Snowpiercer) and Dakota Johnson (50 Shades of Grey) and is currently in post-production. Production on the film took place primarily in Varese, Italy from September through December, before moving to and wrapping in Berlin in early February. Amazon already has acquired international distribution rights to the movie, and they recently courted buyers at the European Film Market.