Warning: Major SPOILERS for Suspiria
Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake is a tense, supernatural thriller that saves its biggest surprises for the very end. After truly breaking out with last year’s romantic drama Call Me By Your Name, what Guadagnino delivers next couldn’t be further from it. Suspiria is filled with disturbing imagery, a complicated world, and mysterious characters.
Suspiria is largely the story of Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson). She is a ballet dancer from Ohio who travels to Berlin, Germany in 1977 to join the Marko Dance Academy. The true purpose of the academy is to find a vessel for Markos (Tilda Swinton), who is dying of old age, so that she can live. Susie is unaware of this and has simply been obsessed with their performances for years. She is particularly interested in instructor Madame Blanc (also played by Swinton) and her legendary number Volk – which is the beginning of the ritual that can save Markos. The protagonist role in Volk becomes available right as Susie arrives because former lead Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz) has gone missing. Patricia began to suspect her dark future and turned to Dr. Josef Klemperer (once again Swinton’s role) to help confirm and spread the truth. He only takes interest in her statements after she disappears. Josef seeks help from fellow dancer Sara (Mia Goth) and becomes a target by the matrons of the academy because of what he learns.
Related: Screen Rant’s Review of Suspira
Blanc appoints Olga (Elena Fokina) to take on the lead role in Volk, but she can’t handle the pressure and allows for Susie to quickly volunteer her services. She impresses all the teachers with her performance of the number (while the same movements physically distort Olga in another room) and Blanc begins to train her for the performance of a lifetime. As Susie becomes more integrated with the Marko Dance Academy, Blanc attempts to take control of the program herself. Mother Markos is currently in charge of the academy, but her leadership is put into question with the recent failed rituals and her claim to be Mother Suspiriorum, one of the Three Mothers (more on them later). The vote does not go in Blanc’s favor and she’s instead tasked with preparing everyone for the next performance of the masterpiece she created and results in a wild finale.
- This Page: Suspiria’s Ending Explained
- Page 2: What Suspiria’s Ending Means
What Happened In Suspiria’s Ending?
To set the stage for the finale, the last performance of Volk must happen. Susie has come to gain a greater understanding of what her purpose is with the academy, and is fully willing to comply. She does not waver in her decision even when Sara warns her of her possible fate. Sara has been investigating Patricia’s claims for Josef, and despite initially refuting them, they actually open her eyes to what the academy is really up to. She snoops around the hidden corners of the building and on the night of Volk‘s performance learns the unsettling truth. Sara discovers a naked and deteriorating Patricia in the caverns below, along with several other tormented girls. She tries to escape but has her leg broken and then repaired, allowing her to make her way back up to the performance room and dance part of Volk until her bone snaps again.
Josef is in attendance and hastily exits after this event, but he’s already become part of the larger plot by this point. He is haunted by the unknown fate of his wife and whether or not she survived the Holocaust. Marko’s instructors know that he’s been looking into their actual dealings and believe he is the missing piece to the ritual. They believe that a male witness must be present for it to properly work, so they trick Josef into believing that he finds his wife, who leads him right back to the Marko Dance Academy. His wife (a figment of his imagination) is no longer there and he is immediately taken by two of the teachers.
This is when Susie realizes that the time has come for the ritual to begin and descends into the depths of the building. She arrives in a room full of completely nude dancers already taking part in the ceremonial dance. Behind a line of said dancers, another group surrounds Patricia, Olga, and Sara – who are entranced and disemboweled, but still alive. Blanc and a withered Markos are both present, while a naked Dr. Josef lays on the ground ready to witness what is to come.
As the ritual begins, Blanc makes a surprising turn. Thanks to all the time she has spent with Susie, Blanc has developed a closeness to her that she hasn’t felt had before. Blanc proposes that Susie should leave and not take part in the ritual, for she knows that Susie’s life will be sacrificed so Markos can live. Markos grows tired of Blanc’s wavering amidst Susie’s fortitude and uses her power to nearly decapitate Blanc, which is when one of the Three Mothers enters the picture.
Suspiriorum’s True Identity Revealed
The Three Mothers in Suspiria‘s mythology are god-like beings who have existed before time itself. Their names are Mother Tenebrarum, Mother Lachrymarum, and Mother Suspiriorum. These three figures are extremely powerful and seek to rule. Their backstory isn’t fleshed out too deeply in the film, but Dario Argento’s original film took the concept from poet Thomas de Quincey. Argento’s trilogy of films established that each Mother had a specific location to reign and spread their darkness, with Germany being for Suspiriorum. The “witches” of the academy seek to serve the all-powerful beings, so Markos’ claim to actually be Suspiriorum immediately makes her the most powerful figure.
But in Suspiria‘s closing moments, it is revealed that Susie is actually the true reincarnated Mother Suspiriorum. When Susie reveals her true nature to Markos, a physical embodiment of death arises in the middle of the room and goes directly for Markos and kills her. It is the beginning of an extremely bloody few minutes, as Death (as it is credited) sweeps across the room and kills all of Markos’ supporters. Susie personally attends to Patricia, Olga, and Sara to grant them whatever fate they decide. All three request death, so Susie grants them a painless one among all the bloodshed. Dr. Josef is freed, but soon visited by Susie again to wipe his mind of the horrific event and of any woman he’s ever met.
Suspiriorum Returns To Power
This ending can completely reframe Suspiria and Susie’s arc as a whole, but Guadagnino’s execution doesn’t provide any easy answers. We see in flashbacks and dream sequences that Susie was not raised in the ideal scenario, but her path appears to have been set from day one. Suspiria occasionally cuts back to a woman on her death bed who is revealed to be Susie’s mother. The extremely religious parent believes Susie is a great sin she’s unleashed upon the planet, and says as much to the camera. Based on this belief, Suspiria appears to be communicating that Susie has been the new Suspiriorum for her entire life. The question that then arises is whether or not Susie has known this the entire time. Since it isn’t explicitly made clear in the film, lets explore both options.
Susie knowing her true destiny would explain why she was the only one willing to volunteer to be the lead of Volk, because she understands the importance of it in the grander scheme of things. Her arrival at Marko Dance Academy coming at the perfect time could be explained as a god-like figure being omniscient, so she’d know a new lead was needed. It also comes as Susie is in the prime of her life, so Suspiriorum arguably could’ve waited until this time so that her reign can begin when she would theoretically be the most powerful – that is, if we assume the academy has been attempting this ritual for several years, as possibly indicated by their several prisoners. This would explain why Susie isn’t as disturbed by the nightmares forced upon her by the instructors and her understanding of the academy’s larger goals. But, this line of thinking also means that Susie’s obsession with the academy and training to be a dancer was all out of necessity for her own personal gain.
The other possibility is that Susie begins to realize her true identity over time. When she initially arrives in Berlin, she does not know where the academy is located and is star struck when Blanc steps in to watch her audition. She simply starts out trying to achieve her own personal goal of leading Volk, something she’s studied for and dreamed of for years. If the academy building and Berlin are Suspiriorum’s place of power, then it could also be argued that Susie’s arrival begins to unlock the other side to her. In this scenario, the more time she spends at Marko Dance Academy and trains for the ritual, the more aware she becomes. This would still explain why she is accepting of the weirder aspects to the academy so quickly. This argument would postulate that Susie was destined to come to Berlin and was instinctively drawn to the Marko Dance Academy to fulfill her destiny and reclaim her place of power.
The Real Meaning Of Suspiria’s Ending
Sometimes a look to the larger theme of a movie could help answer questions like the reason behind Suspiriorum’s rise, but that may not be the case with Suspiria. One of the film’s largest themes is power and the abuse of it. This can be seen most prominently in how the instructors run Marko Dance Academy and how Markos specifically uses her position of power to benefit her own gain. When Suspiriorum reveals herself, she eliminates anyone associated with the abused power within the academy. This gives are a clean slate to start over and use her newfound power as she deems fit.
Whether or not Suspiriorum will actually use her power correctly remains to be seen. After going this far to eradicate the academy of all power hungry and corrupt individuals, a new reign is upon us with Suspiriorum’s return. There’s potential for Guadagnino to address this if any sequels are made, but Susie does appear to be at least partially interested in self-preservation at this time. Killing Markos for falsely claiming to be Suspiriorum could be an understandable outcome, but immediately murdering her supporters without first seeing if they’d follow her lead could indicate Suspiriorum is just as abusive with her power as anyone else. It doesn’t stop there either, as wiping Dr. Josef’s mind without his consent is a step too far, and then there’s the ominous after-credits scene. She may show some sense of mercy with her dealings with Patricia, Olga, and Sara, but the potential for Suspiriorum to abuse the power she is attempting to eliminate is there.
An abuse of power isn’t all that Suspiria addresses, with Guadagnino touching on a range of different themes throughout, but it certainly is the most prevalent. Its a fitting end to the story he is telling that leaves the door open for discussion about how the theme of power relates to motherhood, feminism, and more. Suspiria wants to show that the abuse of power is wrong, but also conveys just how easy it is to abuse the power when trying to fix it.