With a name like that, and the ominous inclusion of the anti-legend that is Malcolm McDowell on the cast list, you'd expect this review to write itself, along with a snappy, pun-ful title like "SUCK Sucks", or "SUCK is a Real Pain in the Neck". Then I could sit back and congratulate myself with a big grin and a glass of milk. But that wouldn't be fair, because Suck is actually bloody good! Even more odd, McDowell is engaging and entertaining in it as well... Has the world gone mad?!
How does a vampire movie make waves in a thoroughly saturated market? That question has to be playing on a lot of marketers' minds at the minute, especially now that they have to counter-act the unfortunate effect of unfunny "parody" movies like Vampires Suck poking fun at the generic conventions of the neck biting romance genre. Well, how about not taking yourself seriously? Twilight is so bloody mock-earnest and full of teenage intensity that it's laughable, and that film franchise (plus its many imitators) have pretty much besmirched the good name of the traditional vampire romp.
So, thank God for writer/director/star Rob Stefaniuk who has injected Suck with a delicious mix of cheese and intelligent wit: this is not so much a parody of the genre (which inevitably devalues the original subject) as a full-throttle homage, celebrating its characteristics without aspiring to change the genre in any way. It is a colourful, energetic experience, revelling in its sometime absurdity but never picking off the easy target that the vampire genre has sadly become in the wake of the tween fans who have swarmed across the globe.
The premise is a simple one, and it allows for a lot of fun. A struggling rock band called The Winners become an overnight sensation after their beautiful bassist Jennifer (Jessica Paré) becomes turns up all pale and vamp-like after a clandestine meeting with a shadowy figure. She's obviously been bitten, and when the rest of the band go the same way their fan-base increases exponentially, and the hi-jinx that follow are a wonder to behold, with Stefianuk channelling the spirit of the rock music video to bring his story to life. And like a good, entertaining music video, there is no need to question what the film is attempting to say about the genre (it is very much to be enjoyed in just one dimension), or to find an embedded message. In fact, I fear that an attempt to do so would be to dilute the pleasure of watching the film.
The cameos- numerous that they are- are all perfectly pitched, and perfectly casted: among them we have Dave Foley as The Winners' manager, Henry Rollins as a goofy DJ, Iggy Pop as a worn record producer, Alice Cooper as a wise bartender (and maybe more), Moby on top self-effacing form as a punk singer whose bands quirk is to be pelted by meat during their performances and Malcolm McDowell as legendary vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsig. The best thing is, none of the roles are that much of a stretch to believe- in some skewed alter-reality, these characters could well have existed instead of the rock legends that we have come to love.
Suck is essentially a tongue-in-cheek musical comedy/horror that openly embraces its high-camp status: this is excess at its fragrant, bloody best, and the alignment of the narrative with that other grand camp institution Rock and Roll serves both well.
The usual suspects: a making-of piece, audio commentary and a Burning Bridges music video. Down to the Crossroads or: How to Make a Movie SUCK offers some comparatively lengthy cast and crew interviews that are just a little better than the usual fare, including the cameo rock stars chatting about their experiences of making the movie . Excellent audio commentary too: director, Stefaniuk and cinematographer Gregor Hagey do an admirable job of matching the on-screen highs with energetic, and often genuinely funny chatter.