Witching hour starts with R-16 horror film ‘Suspiria’ on Oct 31

A ballet company secretly houses witches in the latest horror movie “Suspiria”. Starring an all-women ensemble lead that includes Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Moretz and Mia Goth, “Suspiria” introduces the audience to a coven of a world-renowned dance company engulfed in darkness where there are only two options: succumb in darkness or wake up from the trap of a nightmare they are in.

American dancer Susie Bannion (Johnson) arrives in 1970s Berlin hoping to join the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Company. In her very first rehearsal, Susie stuns the company’s famed choreographer, Madame Blanc (Swinton), with her talent, vaulting to the position of lead dancer. Olga (Goth), the previous lead, breaks down and accuses the “Mothers” who run the company of being witches. But before she can flee, she is captured and tortured by a mysterious force somehow connected to Susie’s dancing. Despite these early warning signs, Susie continues her rise to the top of the dance academy at all costs. As rehearsals continue for the final performance of the company’s signature piece, “Volk,” Susie and Madame Blanc grow strangely close, suggesting that Susie’s purpose in the dance company goes beyond dancing.

Meanwhile, psychotherapist Dr. Klemperer discovers a disturbing diary from his patient, a former Markos dancer named Patricia (Moretz), outlining an ancient demonic religion practiced by the Mothers. After Patricia mysteriously disappears, the doctor tries to alert the police but gets nowhere. Taking matters into his own hands, he approaches a dancer named Sara for help. Following their meeting, Sara ventures into the depths of the dance studio’s hidden chambers, where strange and horrific discoveries await.

The emotional demands aside, Johnson says the experience of filming Suspiria was remarkable, in part because of the film’s predominantly female cast and its lack of a conventional romantic storyline. “It was the most nurturing, loving environment,” she says. “You go in thinking, ‘Okay, I’m going to film this psychotic story in an abandoned hotel with a cast of 40 women. It’s going to be mayhem!’ And yeah, everyone was on the same menstrual cycle – the whole thing was so witchy – but there was such a foundation of support and love and true, deep connections with one another. It was so liberating, and it made me feel proud to show this way of filmmaking to the world: There doesn’t have to be a leading man, or a male-female story to get the point of love across.”

The dance sequences in Suspiria are crucial: They must cast a spell on the audience to such a degree that we believe the dancers’ movements are imbued with a primal, powerful force. For Guadagnino, finding the right choreographer and aesthetic was paramount.

Johnson began dance training while she was still filming Fifty Shades Freed in Vancouver. After Jalet joined the project, she spent three weeks in Varese, Italy, working eight hours a day with the other dancers. “I danced when I was younger for about 10 years, so luckily I had a bit of a background and my body has muscle memory,” she says. “And I can understand choreography, so that was an incredible plus for me.”

Director Guadagnino calls the story “a fable of a very specific time and place, where the past was so dark that it goes hand in hand with digging into the darkness of the self.” He adds that the film reflects the feminism that swept Europe in the 1970s “in the way we describe the archetypical figure of the witch and the way the movie showcases a variety of female characters and empowers and de-victimizes the women.”

From OctoArts Films International, “Suspiria” opens in cinemas October 31. Rated R-16 without cuts by the MTRCB.

‘Halloween’ review: A fresh take on the iconic slasher

David Gordon Green’s ‘Halloween’ brings dignity to an increasingly disappointing franchise.

Coming in 40 years later, Green’s new Halloween movie ignores every single sequel that came after John Carpenter’s 1978 cult classic. This game-changing move serves as a course correction to deliver a well-made and thrilling sequel that brings some form of closure to the franchise.

The film talks about the trauma of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who this time around is the last line of defense against the masked serial killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle). Laurie’s experience on the first Halloween film has fully consumed her for the past four decades, making her obsessively security conscious and beyond paranoid that profoundly affects her relationships with both her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). When Michael escaped after imprisoned for 40 years he headed home to Haddonfield on the night before Halloween. On his way to Haddonfield he managed to scare and kill victims that stand in his way – this includes Allyson Strode and some of her teenage friends, some cops, and a few other locals. Michael didn’t know that Laurie turns out to be prepared for the worst. Until he get to face Laurie and her family in a cabin were a huge satisfying and incredible tense showdown happen.

The film honors the classic forebear while developing an identity of its own. This new Halloween movie was clearly made not just by the people who adore the original film but also the modern type of horror films, with enough loving wit and self-awareness to acknowledge the film’s genre. The visuals and sound maintain the exact blend of bluntness that makes this film terrifying. The sound design is heavy, chunky, and harsh, complemented by a musical score that absolutely shreds, combining the classic Halloween theme with newer, darker material

Green creates a fresh take on the iconic slasher film, nodding to the original but used an entire modern horror toolbox. Green makes a number of explicit references to Carpenter’s film with dialogue and even shots but relies heavily on subverting expectations and the long-awaited showdown between Michael and Laurie, from which the film became more interesting. Green cleverly finds a way to relate it to the original only with the roles reversed where Laurie is no longer the prey – forming in some sort of closure to Michael. The Laurie and Michael segments are worth celebrating in the film. It succeeds at giving Laurie her due while making Michael scary again.

To cut to the chase, the film is particularly made to revive its silent killer and its closure to Laurie Strode. Audiences who longs for the same taste for the original film would actually be disappointed but there’s a lot to see in the film which has more to offer for after those disappointing sequels. Because after all, it would be a blast seeing Michael Myers back.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Nick Castle, Virginia Gardner, and Will Patton. 109 minutes