The most frustrating thing about this movie is that a 90 minute film would’ve been cool. Instead, it’s a two hour and 30 minute [bloody] mess. It’s kind of like this. We all like Bohemian Rhapsody. No, no, not the movie. That was a bit disappointing. I’m talking about the song. It’s just under six minutes long. Now, had Queen taken the operatic middle section, and made that two hours long, the song/opus wouldn’t have been as big as it is today [Freddie fun fact: he did an opera album called Barcelona with Monteserrat Caballe that’s quite good]. Yet because Bohemian Rhapsody has that quirky opera stuff, for a brief time, and then it’s back to Brian May’s shredding guitar…it all works.

This remake of a 1977 horror movie was done by director Luca Guadagnino, who was overly praised for the mediocre Call Me by Your Name (Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet) last year. He thought he could inject some high art into the bloodbath.

So, you know how evil we thought the dance teacher was in Black Swan? Well, Tilda Swinton tops that, teaching this coven of witches how to pirouette. And if you cross her, you’ll end up becoming a bloody contortionist back in your room.

Susie Bannion is played by Dakota Johnson (50 Shades of Grey). Jessica Harper played her in the original (and shows up in this version). Her performance, as well as Swinton’s, are solid.

Bannion is a dancer who wants to go to Berlin, and leave behind her Mormon upbringing in Ohio. She had seen the prestigious Helena Markos Dance Co. perform on a few occasions, and she ends up getting accepted to the troupe. She quickly learns how rigorous the training is (as well as the cigarette smoking, which every dancer in this seems to do).

A few dancers end up disappearing and getting hurt, and since one of them had been visiting a psychiatrist (also played by Swinton, which worked with the prosthetics to make her male, but not the voice, which sounded like a fragile, older female), he calls the cops. They don’t do much, since they’re put under a spell when they go to investigate (it is slightly amusing to see the witches get his pants down, laughing and measuring certain body parts). Turns out, one of the cops did help the shrink look for his wife (who was killed during the Holocaust). Not sure what including that did for the movie.

Sara (Mia Goth), also from America, becomes Susie’s bestie.

Screenwriter David Kajganich (True Story, A Bigger Splash) makes this a meandering mess, that’s rather violent and gory. Yet that doesn’t mean some of the scenes aren’t interesting. Dance sequences are choreographed well. Some creepy bloody images, when dreams are channeled to Susie, are intriguing. The problem is…it’s often rather boring. I brought my friend who loves horror movies. The last time we saw a period piece/horror flick was The Little Stranger a few months ago. We both kind of liked that. In this movie, I noticed she fell asleep twice (although she did admit to having a long day, and the comfortable reclining seats at the Angelika).

Many aspects of the movie just didn’t make sense, either. One of them being the fact that this deals with the Iran hostage situation, as well as bombings going on around Berlin.

It was great to hear Thom Yorke did the music and songs. It’s nice to see somebody else in Radiohead beside guitarist Jonny Greenwood doing film scores.

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom has terrific shots in the film, and you add to that costume design and everything else, the movie has nice atmosphere.

This whole thing was overly complicated and just not worth your time.

But at least I got to see Tilda Swinton (one of the best actresses around), playing a witch. She bored me when she played a vampire in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, and she bored me playing a witch in this. I’ll be waiting for her to play a wolfman next.

1 ½ stars out of 5.




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