Even before the festival got going this year, there was a large faction assuming that it would be Suspiria, though Glass, Slice, and Hell Fest were all frequently mentioned throughout the halls of the Alamo Drafthouse.
The film's co-writer, David Kajganich, was in attendance after the screening, which was its official North American debut, to talk about the challenges of writing a remake of one of the definitive horror films of all time, paying tribute to Dario Argento's original and creating something that will stand on its own.
"It starts with wanting to do something quite different from the original," Kajganich told the crowd, which included SYFY WIRE. "When Luca proposed setting it in 1977, the year the original was released, that year is so rich in German history. [It was] this moment when the young generation was starting to turn to the older generations with the question 'How could you have done what you did?'"
With the setting in place, they were able to ground the supernatural elements of the film in the real world.
"Once we thought, 'If we're going to have a backdrop for a story about a coven of witches that is coming to some kind of new iteration of their power, and having to decide what they might want to do with that, how will that look politically, it seemed like too great an idea to pass up to fuse these things together, and have the forward story of the film, about the coven, speak to a larger social and political context."
While the Suspiria remake definitely takes a bold creative stance, with Guadagnino's camera moving across the frame as if it were part of a dance, keeping the sanctity of the original was always a concern for Kajganich.
"It's a huge responsibility, and it's quite a frightening one, from a certain perspective. You want to make sure people understand that you love and respect what they love and respect about the original, and Luca's been wanting to make this since he was a teenager. When he proposed it to me, I had more of an adult's point of view, like, 'How is this going to work?'"
Eventually, Kajganich explained that he had to look past the original film and let their re-telling come into its own.
"It's so beloved, and it's so specific, how could we possibly pay our respects by making something different enough that will capture peoples' imagination in a different way? The short answer is: I think you have to decide that you will do it with the best possible intentions, with real rigor, with real love for the original, but also at some point you have to not care so much that people might refuse it later on. You have to believe it will treat it as open-handedly as you do. And that seems to be happening."
Suspiria will be hit theaters Oct. 26 this year. In the meantime, be sure to check out all of SYFY WIRE's Fantastic Fest coverage all this week.