What's funny is, I almost skipped Amazon Studios' CinemaCon panel.
In between the need to write up this morning's 20th Century Fox offerings (stay tuned for reports on both Shane Black's The Predator and Drew Goddard's Bad Times at The El Royale, both of which look awesome), a general lack of sleep, and general "panel burnout", I thought I'd head right back to my hotel before lunch. Then someone reminded me that Amazon was likely to show the first footage from Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria remake, and just like that I was back on board: we've been waiting for this remake for what feels like forever, how could I pass up the chance to see some of it in action?
Plus, it was a luncheon presentation. Who doesn't like a free lunch?
I definitely made the right call. About halfway through their presentation, Amazon turned the ballroom's overhead lights red, brought Guadagnino out onstage, and had him set up the clip we were about to see. He didn't say much, but the panel's host pointed out that what we were about to see was, eh, maybe a little rough. "You're all through eating, right?" he asked, before the scene began.
The sequence volleyed back and forth between two locations: a dance studio where a crying young woman clawed at the mirrored walls, and another studio - in some other location, and without the mirrored walls - where Tilda Swinton was overseeing the routine of another dancer, played by Dakota Johnson.
At first, the connection between these two scenes wasn't clear, but soon enough it became evident that the routine being performed by Johnson was having an effect on the dancer in the mirrored room - as Johnson's body swirled about the studio space, the dancer in the first room was tossed around like a rag doll. Soon enough, hideous, grey, tumor-like growths appeared underneath the flesh of her abdomen. Shrieking in pain, the dancer's body was twisted and folded into a number of unnatural positions. In the second room, Swinton watched eagerly as Johnson continued to flit about the studio. Back to the mirrored room, and now the poor young lady's face was stretching into unnatural shapes, a toothy rictus letting forth a guttural howl. Her body folded again and again before the dancer wet herself, graphically, right there onscreen, a thick stream of drool pouring from her mouth. Eventually, Johnson's routine came to an end, and what was left in the other room was basically just a crumpled, leaking mess that used to be a human being.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
As gnarly as the footage was (I saw someone on Twitter claiming that someone at their table had thrown down their napkin and stormed out of the room), the entire sequence was beautifully shot and edited with laser precision, with each of Johnson's movements causing an immediate reaction on the young lady in the first room. Can't say for sure whether or not CGI was employed to bring this sequence to life (could've been some remarkably realistic prosthetics?), but whatever tricks they used worked like gangbusters. The crowd audibly gasped, yelped and "Holy fucking shit"-ted their way through the thing.
Afterwards, we were informed that Thom Yorke was working on the soundtrack for the film, and had composed four original songs for it. The music we heard over this footage may or may not have been Yorke's, but in any event it sounded wholly unlike anything from Dario Argento's original. Unfortunately, we were not given a firm release date on the film, but I'm guessing we'll hear something on that front soon: this presentation is bound to generate buzz from the CinemaCon crowd (a quick glance on Twitter indicates I'm right on that front), and I'm guessing Amazon will want to strike while the iron's hot.
Hell, they already released the first poster:
Folks, I know it's easy to read CinemaCon coverage as empty hype. After all, what else is this event other than a week-long marketing extravaganza? But believe me when I say that this sequence was the real deal, and if it's even remotely indicative of the film Guadagnino's crafted, we are in for a goddamn treat when Suspiria hits theaters this Fall.
Stay tuned for more on Suspiria and CinemaCon as the week continues.