Bil’s rating (out of 5):.
Luca Guadagnino makes his first major misstep since his breakthrough success with I Am Love, creating an overlong and frustrating remake of Dario Argento’s lauded horror film. steps in for (who makes a cameo here) as a young and naïve woman who beats the odds and makes it into a prestigious Berlin dance academy run by a stone-faced and mysterious Tilda Swinton. The reason the school had space for Johnson is because of the grisly death of another student, which she thinks nothing of until the weird and nervous atmosphere begins to get to her and the whispered rumours of witchcraft start to sink in. She works herself to the bone trying to get better at her art, while a psychoanalyst (also played by Swinton in heavy makeup, in a subplot that pays off even less than the main story) tries to get to the bottom of some nasty stories he’s been told by a patient ( ) who was also a student at this school. By all accounts the film features a great deal of effort and none of it shows on screen, including Johnson’s having undergone intense training to pull off the film’s few dance numbers, which all seem to be over before they have begun, while Guadagnino’s decision to take the original film’s brightly colourful visual style in the opposite direction, making a film that looks like the lobby of a 1970s office building, goes hand in hand with the blandness of the characters and the obscurity of the plotting. Shouldn’t a movie about witches be fun? Or at least indulgent? Little of what makes sense is particularly memorable, and the grand finale, in which we get money shots of gory rituals, falls dead, making one regret the investment of more than two hours to get to so dissatisfying a conclusion.