CAPSULE: SUCK [2009]

DIRECTED BY: Rob Stefaniuk

FEATURING: Rob Stefaniuk, Jessica Pare, Malcolm McDowell, Dave Foley, Alice Cooper

PLOT: A struggling Canadian rock band finds sudden success when their female

Still from Suck (2009)

bassist becomes a vampire.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s a campy, tongue-in-cheek music movie with a horror/comedy flavor, but doesn’t do much we haven’t seen before.  It draws from other films and music videos to create a light parody of the music industry that’s enjoyable but ultimately forgettable.

COMMENTS:  The plot of Suck is oddly (and I assume unintentionally) reminiscent of Zombie Strippers: both feature a group of performers who willingly become a monstrous entity in order to boost their own popularity, and then climatically reap the consequences of their selfishness.  It gives a satirical bent to the overdone “fledgling musical group hits the big time but get more than they bargained for” premise, substituting blood addiction for drug addiction and topically tapping into society’s sudden Twilight-fueled obsession with vampires.  The concept of vampirism is handled in a very matter-of-fact way, resulting in a lot of unexpected jokes and straightforward humor.

Writer/director Rob Stefaniuk stars as Joey, the lead singer of “The Winners”, playing the straight man surrounded by ridiculous figures for most of the film.  Jessica Pare holds her own as the only female lead, funny and sexy as the hot bassist Jennifer, while Malcolm McDowell (always ready to bring the camp) is awesomely over-the-top as vampire hunter “Eddie” Van Helsing.  Appearances from an impressive bevy of old timer rock stars lend Suck an air of credibility as a rumination on modern-day rock and roll.  Iggy Pop is a wise rocker-turned-recording engineer, Alice Cooper is a creepy mind-reader who spouts unwanted advice, Henry Rollins is a goofy rock DJ, and Moby is a meat-loving frontman.  The highlight for any Kids in the Hall fan will of course be Dave Foley’s few scenes as the Winners’ incompetent manager, delivering the film’s best deadpan lines.

Suck incorporates a lot of different visual techniques that give it more variety than one might expect of a low-budget horror-comedy.  The use of stop-motion miniatures and blood-stained maps for transitions were a neat touch, and the frenetic cuts and dramatic lighting during many of the vampire-centric scenes cleverly reference contemporary music videos.  The music itself is catchy and fun, but doesn’t do much to set itself apart from any generic indie rock band’s output.  It’s not a true musical, saving most of its songs for stage performances except for one unexpected impromptu goth music video set at a vampire’s really pale party.

As a movie, this sits somewhere in the middle of funny and boring, smart and stupid, bold and underachieving, rocker and poser.  It’s got a good concept that blends several genres, but isn’t as effective as it could have been.  It needed to be funnier, scarier, more rockin’, or all three.  As it stands, it’s a cute film with some really enjoyable comedic bits and a few great performances, but not nearly humorous or weird enough to be memorably entertaining.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

…Stefaniuk bites off more than he can chew in this star-studded rock ‘n’ roll fantasy vampire flick. Juggling conventions, skewering clichés and referencing genre cues, Stefaniuk packs the film with so many insider jokes that what could have been a wild ride simply isn’t.”–Barbara Goslawski, Box Office Magazine (festival screening)

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