NXNE 2010: Suck Review

How long would you wait for your big break? And if you knew it would never come unless you took drastic measures like, say, becoming a vampire, would you? Do sex and drugs really make rock ‘n roll? According to Rob Stefaniuk’s tongue-in-cheek film, rock music is nothing without some kind of drug or in this case, blood, to get the audience’s attention.

Rob Stefaniuk plays Joey, songwriter and leader of a band that has been working the club circuit for too long with too little success; even their sleazy manager (played by the always effortless Dave Foley) fires himself, and the bass player (Jessica Paré) decides to become a vampire to spruce up the act. As she makes the band’s roadie clean up the bodies and converts the other band members, Joey contemplates how far he will go for success. Recruiting such musicians as Alice Cooper, Moby and Iggy Pop, Stefaniuk takes a highly amusing look at the hard road of the hard working rock band.

Rather than making an overly-romanticized story of the joys and pitfalls of rock music and the almost inevitable drug addiction side effect, Stefaniuk uses the vampire metaphor in a fun way, not only as a stand-in for the drugs, but the stereotype behaviour of vampires becomes a metaphor for the behaviour of musicians. Stefaniuk’s directorial strengths lie in his creation of aesthetic (in the case of Suck, the stop-motion animation is fantastic, and well as the special effects of the bands’ vampire aura) and mood. When the film is not self-conscious, it is extremely funny and while the subtext is noticeable, it’s not overwhelming. The big-name stars such as Malcolm McDowell as the aging vampire hunter, Pop as the knowledgeable and jaded former rock star, and Foley as the sleazy manager, more than hold their own and pretty much steal their scenes from the local actors. Indeed, when they are on-screen, or when the story is in its more absurd situations (such as the straw impalement of a convenience store clerk), the film is strangely charming. But Stefaniuk’s weak point is his dialogue, which borders on cliché and predictable. And while in the absurd situations it seems to work, for the exposition scenes, it drags down the film and some of the lesser-known actors are weak in their delivery.

Overall though, Suck is a highly enjoyable film with excellent music and fun moments. Stefaniuk’s strengths lie in his spot-on guest star casting, and absurd yet oddly believable situations.

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