As if Black Swan wasn’t enough, a dance company is once more positioned as being filled with darkness and terror in Suspiria, the modern remake of the 1970s classic erotic, psychological thriller. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, this version stars Dakota Johnson as Susie Bannion, an talented young dancer vying for a spot in a troupe lead by the enigmatic Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton).
Still set in 1977, Susie soon finds the academy is not what she believed it to be. There are strange hidden hallways, rumors of girls having gone missing and other mysteries. The question is whether or not Susie can believe what she sees and how well she might fit in.
There’s not much graphically to the first poster, but the image of an “S” in what might probably be blood on what looks to be a concrete industrial wall certainly hints at some not good things happening in the movie. There’s not much graphically to the first poster, but the image of an “S” in what might probably be blood on what looks to be a concrete industrial wall certainly hints at some not good things happening in the movie. A series of posters used that same image with various lines and phrases inside the “S” including “Give your soul to the dance,” “Let mother take care of you” and more.
That same “S” is shown on another one-sheet, this time more overtly painted in blood, with the title treatment presented in a very disjointed, Saul Bass-esque style.
The theatrical one-sheet uses the same title treatment seen earlier, but this time surrounded by flame-like splatters of blood with the eyes of the characters looking out from the red.
Another series of posters placed a red “S” in the middle of photos of different locations from the story, mostly different offices and rehearsal spaces from around the academy.
More character posters followed that provided different looks at the cast.
Two additional posters presented very tribalistic, takes on the story, showing a six-armed dancer holding a woman’s head in each hand.
Things start out weird in the first trailer and only go more sideways as it goes on. There are shots of people standing in gray, barren fields looking at something slightly off-camera, women dancing tragically, crawling up walls and more, all with a growing dissonant swell of music in the background. The spot contains no dialogue or other means of conveying the plot, it’s all about creating a singularly creepy atmosphere and vibe.
A brief video was released a while later that included on-screen comments from YouTubers about the trailer and how shocking and unexpected it was.
Abandon all hope of understanding what’s happening in the first full trailer, as well as any hope you’ll ever feel normal again. We see Susie enter a dance studio has a hopeful young star, but things get twisted and terrifying quickly has sickles come out, secret doors are unlocked, mysterious journals hint at danger and more. It is a psychological mind-trip being sold here.
Online and Social
The movie’s official website opens with a map of nearby theater locations and prompts to buy tickets for upcoming screenings. You can access other material by clicking the Menu in the upper left corner of the site.
First there is “Intrigue” which seems to just contain a number of positive quotes from early reviews of the film. “Legends” offers a bit of information about the cast, including a collection of photos of each character.
A series of GIFs can be found in “Lessons,” which repeats the entreaty to “Give yourself over to the dance.” The trailers and clips are in “Secrets.” Finally, “Whispers” has a new song from Thom Yorke that’s featured on the soundtrack, along with a link to buy that album.
Links to the movie’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles can be found at the bottom of the site. There was a link on Twitter to Patricia’s Diary, which is only accessible via mobile browsers. That site lets you thumb through the diary kept by the character whose disappearance sets much of the story in motion and which is filled with scribblings and ramblings that sound unhinged but which may mean something.
There were also a collection of official GIFs from the trailers added to Amazon Studios’ Giphy channel.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Amazon doesn’t list any official TV spots on its YouTube channel, but there have been some promoted posts on social media that have used both the trailers and shorter videos that play like commercials. Other online ads used elements from the key art, as well as a promotional image of Johnson draped in red ribbons and surrounded by other dancers.
Media and Publicity
There had been coverage during early production but the first real press came when Johnson and director Luca Guadagnino debuted footage from the film as part of Amazon’s presentation during CinemaCon, footage that had a lot of attendees reportedly creeped out. It later skipped Cannes, presumably to open it up to make more of a fall film festival run.
One of the movie’s central dance sequences was the focus of an EW feature in its Fall Movie Preview issue. Shortly after that Guadagnino was interviewed about his hopes the movie really disturbs audiences as well as what he got from watching the original. Swinton then spoke about how this was the fourth film she’s made with Guadagnino and why the two work together frequently.
A clip released in late August gave audiences the first long-form look at the movie, specifically the demanding and creepy dance academy the characters populate. Another released in mid-October offered an extended look at Susie’s audition for the academy.
Screenwriter David Kajganich revealed he wasn’t a fan of the original film but that he saw an opportunity to expand the scope of the story in this version, or at least flesh out the background of 1970s Germany it’s set in. Johnson and the rest of the cast and crew spoke regularly while on the festival circuit about the story, the process of making the film and related topics.
It was announced in mid-September the movie would also screen at Beyond Fest.
A feature on Swinton had the actress finally confirming she played the mysterious male doctor and elaborating on the lengths she went to in order to inhabit the character. Guadagnino also spoke about the parts of the film he found most difficult or interesting to shoot and why he made certain stylistic choices.
Johnson has been making the TV talk show rounds as well, splitting her attention between this movie and Bad Times at the El Royale, which opened just a couple weeks ago.
The campaign is so dense, inaccessible and filled with vague, mysterious imagery and symbolism that I can’t see this resonating with most anyone who didn’t hail mother! as their favorite movie of last year. It’s not a bad campaign, it’s just that there’s nothing about it that’s designed to appeal to a mainstream audience.
That hasn’t been helped by all the speculation about who Swinton is playing, the fact that it’s a remake of a movie that was never a popular favorite to begin with and other factors. It looks good, but there’s nothing here for anyone to actually latch on to.
Picking Up The Spare
More from director Luca Guadagnino on the parallels between the movie’s story and the current US political climate.
Amazon Studios put out a video of fans reacting to a particular scene from the film.
Amazon launched a mini-campaign to promote the movie’s coming soon to Prime Video that was drastically different in tone from the theatrical marketing.