Shooting on Luca Guadagnino‘s remake of Dario Argento‘s Suspiria begins next month in Berlin. Guadagnino says his version will be set in 1977, the year Argento’s cult-classic original was released, and will be about “about the mother, the concept of motherhood and the uncompromising force of motherhood”…whatever that means.
Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn, currently covering the Locarno Film Festival, sat down with Argento and asked for his reaction to Guadagnino’s film. Argento disapproves. The original, he explained, “has a specific mood. Either you do [the remake] exactly the same way — in which case, it’s not a remake, it’s a copy, which is pointless — or, you change things and make another movie. In that case, why call it Suspiria?”
Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash) is doing what he wants because he can, and because the Suspiria rights are secure. He’s at the peak of his powers right now, and there are no rules — he can do anything. And he’s sticking with Argento’s original title, I presume, because it has a certain brand value, and because it sounds cool.
But let’s be honest. Outside of a relatively small community of critics and cultists nobody (Gudagnino included, I’m guessing) cares very much what Argento thinks or wants. I certainly don’t. I respect the fact that he created a distinctive, critically respected Euro-exploitation brand starting in the late ’60s, and that he kept it going into the early aughts. Argento’s style is very much his own. He’s painted his films with a classier and more inventive brush-style than other sex-horror exploitation filmmakers (i.e., his imitators), but Guadagnino strikes me as hipper and more clear-light, and he’s obviously no genre hound.
Just as Guadagnino transformed the basic elements of La Piscine into a shaggier, more layered and gourmet-flavorful film with A Bigger Splash, the odds suggest he’ll probably achieve something similar when he re-imagines and re-constitutes Suspiria. Outside of critics and cultists who cares what Argento thinks about anything now? For one brief shining moment he was a tony purveyor of Euro exploitation and yes, he’s now the grand old fellow, but otherwise film freaks mostly regard him as not just a genre-sit but a bit of a marginal figure — not Hitchcock, not Huston, not Cassevetes, not Fuller, not Welles, not grade A.
That’s my impression, at least.