Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One A Week Reviews #44: Suck

A gem of a horror-comedy reviewed for Highly Recommended!


Official Synopsis:

The Winners are a down and out band who find their road to stardom by riding rock-n-roll's highway to hell. It all begins when their bass player, Jennifer (Jessica Paré), disappears with a mysterious vampire and reemerges with a sexual charisma that drives the audiences wild. Now, The Winners are topping the charts and blazing a bloody trail across North America with legendary vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsig (Malcom McDowell) hunting them along the way. Who knew fame and immortality could "suck" like this?

Our Take:

Rob Stefaniuk is rather smartly shortcircuting reviewers from taking easy shots at this rock-n-roll vampire movie by bluntly naming it Suck. So... does it? To get it out of the way, no. If anything, he can stand boldly behind the name as this is a surprisingly near-perfect horror comedy.

The Winners are a mediocre bar band barely making ends meet while on tour, so when the bassist shows pale, ruby-lipped, and making everyone fall in love with her it's a god send... even if she's noshing on the occasional person while on tour. Next thing you know they're climbing the ladder of success thanks to some good old-fashioned blood-sucking. It's a humorous way to ask the old question: "What price success?"

The cast of Suck is uniformly good. Stefaniuk cast himself as band-leader Joey and Jessica Paré is first charming, then show-stopping once a vampire. Paul Anthony, Mike Lobel and especially Chris Ratz as the Renfield-like Hugo each shine as the rest of The Winners. Dave Foley pops up as the band's manager and Malcolm McDowell gleefully chews scenery as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing (nice touch, that). McDowell brings his usual intensity while also seeming unusually playful. Frankly, he looks like he's having an excellent time. (The incorporation of footage of him earlier in his career in a flashback spices up some rote back story, as well.) Musicians Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Moby, Iggy Pop, and Alex Lifeson show up to lend "stage cred" to the proceedings. For stunt casting, they're all charming performers and each shines in their cameos.

The construction here is "music video." The music is incorporated through montage and performance to the point where you could call this a musical. The editing, cinematography, and effects nicely straddle the horror-comedy divide. Everything looks lavish, while still feeling small-scale. Color changes in the lighting and stop-motion animation are effectively used to transition scenes. Keep an eye out for the running gag of shots that reproduce famous album covers. While the vampire aesthetic is all pasty skin, red eyes, and good lighting, things stay humorous even when the blood starts flowing.

Superficially, one could say the metaphor here is "vampirism as a metaphor for success," but mostly Suck is simply high-concept comedy done right and worth seeking out.

Special Features:

Suck is presented in widescreen with 2.0 and 5.1 Surround Sound Audio options in English with English SDH subtitles. Extras include trailers, a 45 minute making-of documentary "Down To The Crossroads," an audio commentary track with the writer and director, along with a music video by Burning Brides.

A tongue-in-cheek musical lark of a vampire story, Suck is campy and fast-paced fun. A nice surprise and highly recommended. Be sure to "try some groupie" and give it a watch.

Overall Picture:
Movie: A-
Extras: B

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