Spoilers ahead: Susperia (2018) may not be a film driven by a feminist agenda, but it still works to push the medium forward in embracing a raw and real feminine identity.
(Article published on Sidequesting)
We’re in 1977 divided Berlin and a young girl named Patricia manically enters her psychiatrist, Dr. Klemperer’s, office. She curls into the fetal position of his chair muttering of how she was groomed to be “perfect” by the heads of the famous Markos Tans Dance Company. She twitches squirrelishly and sees eyes on everything, tossing albums and books about to avoid their all-seeing gaze. She hears voices in her head. In an Arthur Miller manic episode she shouts “Witches!”, Dr. Klemperer writes down that her psychological state is diminishing, and then the camera shifts to a dying woman in rural America, accompanied hauntingly by Thom Yorke’s melancholic score. This is Susperia (2018)– not a remake of the 1977 Argento film, but something meant to hold its own. And while it’s a horror film first, it also supplies a healthy step in the right direction for women in film as well.
Overall, it’s been a relatively hopeful time for women in movies and television. With the reincarnation of DC’s Wonder Woman and the excitement trailing the upcoming release of Captain Marvel, it’s safe to say that women are getting more lead time in mainstream film. Strength and autonomy radiate from female protagonists who, in many ways, embody the quintessential feminist narrative. The Buffys and Lara Crofts. The Salts and Mrs. Smiths. The Jill Valentines and Fem Sheps. All powerful and independent. None objectified in their creation. It’s inspiring to think that young women can see these characters and realize that there is a relatable strength within them – characters that, before, reflected only a shallow sense of service to the plot. It’s even better to see men embracing them as protagonists as well. But Susperia is unique because, even though I’d argue it’s an empowering feminine narrative, it’s not really about a heroine—and that’s tremendously important to promote; being strong in the physical sense – being able to defend oneself and throw a car across a room – is still, at least initially, a man’s idea of strong.