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News Article

SXSW 2010 Review: 'Suck'


One might walk into a "vampire musical comedy" with some degree of skepticism, and I say this because I sure as hell walked into a new flick called Suck with my pencil already sharpened. "The movie Suck ... sure does!" is what I was going to say, because I am clever. "Thanks for naming your movie Suck, fellas, because you just wrote my review for me!" (Man, what wordsmiths us film critics am!) But then the lights went down and I noticed the name Rob Stefaniuk, which I remembered because A) it's kind of a funny name, and B) I once saw a film of his at the Toronto Film Festival. It was a broad Canadian comedy called Phil the Alien, which I enjoyed well enough without exactly falling in love with it.

So now we're looking at a "vampire musical comedy" from the guy who wrote and directed a goofy flick called Phil the Alien ... but wait, there's more! Dave Foley, to be specific, one of the funniest Canadians I can think of who's actually trying to be funny on purpose is in the film. Also on board ... Malcolm McDowell as a fearless* vampire hunter, Jessica Pare as a stunningly sexy rock star vampiress, and Stefaniuk himself as a front-man who must watch his entire band get infected by the evil powers of vampireness. Broad, fun, goofy stuff. Not always "LOL" hilarious, but Suck does deliver a nice portion of simple but effective comedy, Canada style. (* He's not fearless at all. He's actually afraid of the dark.)

So the gist is pretty simple: There's this aspiring rock band called The Winners, and their bass player is a gorgeous woman who goes home with a vampire after a gig. The band is ready to hit the road the next day, but Jennifer is nowhere to be found, so the gang leaves her in Toronto. The four fellas make it to Montreal, and hey, there's Jennifer! And she's looking really ... pale and sexy. Yep, she's been vampired, and while Jen tries to keep her nocturnal activities a secret ... it's just not all that feasible once the bodies start piling up on the road.

Clearly we're not talking Shakespearean farce here. But, as always, there's something to be said for an indie horror-comedy that delivers some solid giggles while poking fun at a well-worn batch of horror cliches, conventions, and tropes. Suck is basically a (yes, somewhat episodic) "road movie" affair, which means we pretty much hop from scene to scene, some of which are admirably clever, others of which are simply ... meh. A few musical numbers manage to prop Suck up from time to time, and the background is populated with amusing cameos from rockers like Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, and Moby. (Who the hell knew Moby was so funny?) Dave Foley, unfortunately, disappears for a big chunk of the movie, but still manages to earn a few dry laughs every time he pops up.

Most assuredly a weeknight rental for those who can appreciate material both broadly goofy and amusingly gory, Suck may not be the flick that cements Rob Stefaniuk as the next big Canadian Comedy import, but it is certainly another step in the right direction. And it's a hell of a lot cooler than Twilight.