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New video: 'Suspiria' is a moody meditation on vengeance

New video: 'Suspiria' is a moody meditation on vengeance
Dakota Johnson, center, plays a dancer named Susie Bannion in "Suspiria." (Alessio Bolzoni / Amazon Studios)

New on Blu-ray

“Suspiria” (Lionsgate Blu-ray, $24.99; also available on VOD)

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Directed by “Call Me By Your Name” helmer Luca Guadagnino, the new version of “Suspiria” is less a remake than a reimagining of Dario Argento’s classic 1977 supernatural splatter-fest. The film's still about an American dance student (played this time out by Dakota Johnson), who gets caught up in freaky phantasmagorical shenanigans while studying abroad. But Guadagnino and screenwriter David Kajganich’s take on the original expands the running time by nearly an hour, using the extra time to connect the clandestine activities of a coven of witches with the charged political climate of mid-1970s Berlin. The movie still has shocking gore — and a beautiful sense of design, especially in the arty dance routines — but isn’t so much a thriller as a moody meditation on guilt and vengeance. Argento fans may balk, but this “Suspiria” follows its own beat.

[Special features: A trio of featurettes]

VOD

“Piercing” (available Feb. 1)

Recommended only for those with strong stomachs, writer-director Nicolas Pesce’s adaptation of Ryu Murakami’s novel “Piercing” is alternately bizarre and repulsive, but always memorable. Christopher Abbot plays a dorky family man with a nagging homicidal compulsion, which he decides to vent by renting a room at a privacy-focused hotel, where he plans to murder a prostitute. But the woman who shows up (played by Mia Wasikowska) has her own secrets and sicknesses, which she reveals over the course of one long night of mutual torment. Pesce (whose previous film was the haunting horror picture “The Eyes of My Mother”) doesn’t spare the viscera or the irony, in a grim slapstick farce made for adventurous audiences.

TV set of the week

Jodie Whittaker, center, as The Doctor in "Doctor Who."
Jodie Whittaker, center, as The Doctor in "Doctor Who." (Sophie Mutevelian / BBC)

“Doctor Who: The Complete Eleventh Series” (BBC DVD, $59.99; Blu-ray, $64.99)

After years of fan lobbying, the 11th season of the revamped “Doctor Who” finally cast a woman as the immortal, body-swapping alien time-traveler known only as “the Doctor.” Jodie Whittaker’s interpretation of the character has more of a sense of wonder and whimsy than other recent incarnations, and the creative team (now led by writer Chris Chibnall) proceeds accordingly. The 11 episodes in the “Doctor Who: The Complete Eleventh Series” set offer mostly lighthearted science-fiction adventure, even in stories that indulge in a little more social satire and commentary than has been the norm for this franchise.

[Special features: A handful of short featurettes, and commentaries on selected episodes]

From the archives

“Suburbia” (Shout Select Blu-ray, $29.99)

A true cult classic, writer-director Penelope Spheeris’ 1984 punk dramedy “Suburbia” takes place in an only slightly exaggerated version of downmarket Los Angeles, where runaways gather in unoccupied tract homes, just down the street from working-class nuclear families who keep tabs on the outcasts under the aegis of a Neighborhood Watch program. The movie doesn’t have much of a plot; it’s mostly just a series of vignettes, set in and around grubby nightclubs and trashed houses. But from the performances by West Coast punk legends like T.S.O.L. to the frequent specific references to Reagan-era malaise, “Suburbia” is a still-vital document of American youth culture in the early ’80s.

[Special features: Two commentary tracks]

Three more to see

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“Boy Erased” (Universal DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; also available on VOD); “Studio 54” (Zeitgeist DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95; also available on VOD); “The Wife” (Sony DVD, $25.99; Blu-ray, $30.99; also available on VOD).

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