Suck (Canada)

directed by: Rob Stefaniuk
starring: Malcolm McDowell; Dave Foley; Jessica Paré; Nicole de Boer; Henry Rollins; Iggy Pop; Alice Cooper; Moby

Thom says: "Another lackluster Canadian entry this one about a touring rock ‘n roll band will do anything to get ahead, yes, even become vampires. You can tell a film like this is crappy when a quality talent (McDowell) walks through his role. Too clever by half, skip! 2 cats "

Jason says: "Okay, let's get it out of the way.  SUCK... doesn't.  It's actually kind of a blast, diving into rock & roll and vampire tropes head-first and building an entertaining horror-comedy out of them, which should appeal to fans of either genre.

"Joey Winner (writer/director Rob Stefaniuk) and his eponymous band aren't going very far; his manager Jeff (Dave Foley) is apathetic to the point of saying that if he were in Joey's place, he'd fire his manager.  There's tension between Joey's current girlfriend (Nicole de Boer) and his ex Jenny (Jessica Paré), who also happens to be the band's bass player.  Something happens in Montreal, though - Jenny leaves the show with a creepy guy (Dimitri Coats), and comes back pale, uncomfortable in the sun, and needing to drink human blood.  Fortunately for the band, vampires have supernatural charisma that gives Jenny inhuman stage presence; unfortunately, Jenny attracts the attention of a determined vampire hunter (Malcolm McDowell).

"There are a lot of glib horror comedies out there, especially involving vampires; they've become too familiar and unlike more animalistic supernatural villains, it's too easy to make being a vampire seem just like being human but with cool superpowers.  Suck absolutely has this going on, but since the world of rock & roll can be strange and amoral as is, it's not such a strange leap to get to feeding on blood.  It can parallel just about any form of (self-)destruction and debauchery that shows up in a musician biopic, and works as a good metaphor for how fame changes people, too.

"The person who really sells us on it, though, is Jessica Paré.  She's hilarious, going from 'what? nothing's wrong, no siree!' to casually accepting her current condition.  We've got to believe that Jennifer is pretty cool other than the whole eating people thing and it works.  Stefaniuk gives himself what is generally the straight man role, freaked out by what's going on around him but still banter-capable.  Chris Ratz, meanwhile, makes every scene a lot funnier as Hugo, the French-Canadian roadie who, in addition to dealing with the equipment, finds himself drafted by Jenny into dealing with the aftermath of her need to feed.  And Malcolm McDowell puts on a hilarious American accent and kills as a vampire hunter who carries a flashlight into nightclubs because he's scared of the dark; he's an unusually successful combination of menacing and comedic.

"In addition to the regular cast, there are a bunch of musicians in extended cameos, most of them fairly amusing:  Alice Cooper, Moby, Carole Pope, and Iggy Pop get their first laughs from recognition but after that they just work in the roles (Pope's back-and-forth with McDowell is especially funny).  Henry Rollins isn't quite so great as an abrasive disc jockey, but that's still an unusually high success rate as far as cameos go.  The other side of it being a music movie is that there are extended sequences of the bad playing (Stefaniuk plays and sings for himself; the other members are dubbed), and though their music isn't bad, it's not quite up to being the focus of the movie for minutes at a time (which I suspect wasn't the intent).

"A few draggy performance bits are all right, though, because even outside the vampire bits, Suck is littered with good gags.  The border-crossing sequences are little bits of gold, and though the weasel manager is a staple of the genre, it's done especially well here.  Stefaniuk finds a nice balance between the blithe amorality of some scenes and his character having to deal with an ethical dilemma enough for it to work as a plot.

"SUCK tempts fate with its title, but comes out of it pretty much unscathed.  As much as I tend to prefer my vampires scary, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.  It's certainly one of the most entertaining comedic takes on the genre to come along in a while. 4 cats

"Seen 24 July 2010 in Theatre Hall (Fantasia 2010)"