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Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love, Call Me by Your Name) pays homage to Dario Argento’s horror classic with this delicious feminist update.

Dir Luca Guadagnino
Prod Marco Morabito, Bradley J Fischer, Luca Guadagnino, David Kajganich, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Francesco Melzi D’Eril, William Sherak, Gabriele Moratti
Scr David Kajganich
With Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Chloë Grace Moretz
UK Distribution MUBI

Though some key plot points remain the same, this is no ‘remake’ of the 1977 giallo. Unfolding in Berlin in the same year Argento’s film was made, it finds American Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) auditioning for a prestigious international dance school. She’s untutored, but has the kind of ferocious commitment to her dance that the strange mistresses who run the all-female school are looking for. In particular, she entrances the precise Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), who is both an exacting tutor and elegant den mother. Is Susie finally the ‘one’ to dance the mysterious ‘Volk’? At the same time, students are disappearing and it’s apparent that some ancient wickedness lurks in the bowels of the school. Swinton and Johnson are incandescent at the heart of a fabulous, almost exclusively female cast. And Thom Yorke contributes an eerily dramatic, disquieting score to the film. As much a playful reflection on 1970s fashion and cinema, the fiction of Angela Carter and Lacanian film theory as it is a tribute to the technical and creative brilliance of Argento’s original, Guadagnino has crafted an exquisitely rendered personal response. The earthy, muted colour palette, captured by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Uncle Boonmee..., Call Me by Your Name), inverts Argento’s vivid colour shock. As does Guadagnino’s own approach to notions of corruption, innocence and female power.

Tricia Tuttle