Suck (2009, Rob Stefaniuk)

Suck (2009, Rob Stefaniuk)Naming your movie Suck is just begging for it to be seriously scrutinized. So to pose the inevitable question: Does Suck suck? Well, let’s not give away the ending just yet, shall we?

Suck is basically a movie about a struggling band trying to get that one break they all desperately crave. When one of their crew gets turned into a vampire, that seems to provide them with the gimmick they need to finally make it big time. But of course things don’t turn out quite as they had hoped.

If there’s one genre that has been oversatiated these past couple of years, it is definitely the one featuring vampires/werewolves/[insert any other mythical creature that’s being massacred (but not in a good way) by the big studios today]. So to say that Suck is another vampire movie is not going to automatically win over any fans, quite to the contrary more likely. But wait, Suck is also a rock ‘n’ roll movie! So it’s not just about vampires but they’re in a rock band as well. Oh, that’s right, the market’s also being flooded with crappy dance/music movies for all those desperately cool young adults out there. So okay, that probably won’t convince anyone to go and watch it either. What else has it got? Well, what if I were to say that it stars not only Alice muthafuckin’ Cooper but also Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Moby and Malcolm McDowell! Okay, so I ended on a bit of a downer there but I promise you that ol’ Malcolm’s pretty decent in this one, really. And surprisingly enough, even though they’re all fun in their own right, the coolest character of them all is played – and not that badly at that – by Moby. I know, right?

Now, even the toughest critic would have to admit that those are some pretty cool names to have in your movie. And they’re not just cameos, either, but actual speaking parts mostly relevant to the plot even. Not too shabby. What else? As interesting as those names are, the same cannot be said about the director’s name, i.e. Rob Stefaniuk, which drew a total blank for me. Apparently he’s been paving the way as an actor for a while already, but as a director this is only his second feature-length movie, having previously directed only one short and one feature film (the equally unknown to me Phil The Alien), the last one of which he also wrote and starred in. And that seems to show the determination with which Stefaniuk is working on his career. He’s not only written Suck, he’s not only directed it and he’s not only starring in it, no, he’s also occupied himself with the music. You see, besides being a writer/director/actor he’s also a musician so he co-wrote most of the music and lyrics (in fact, the lead singer in the band he’s the keyboardist in – Mamabolo – also plays a substantial part in the movie). ‘A’ for effort, right?

But does it all pay off? Well, yes, actually. The one thing that Suck really has going for it is that Stefaniuk made Suck into a comedy above all other things. It does have a (fairly decent) soundtrack and there’s a good bit of gore in there as well, but basically it’s the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously which really makes it a fun(ny) movie. Don’t be fooled, none of the actors’ performances are going to blow you away (not even Stefaniuk’s who, judging from this movie anyway, is definitely a better writer/director than he is an actor, sorry, Rob!), neither will the special effects or the soundtrack or anything else in particular, but it’s all done just well enough for the whole to come together nicely. Three things that deserve special mention: One, the crudely made stop-motion travelling sequences which I found to be weirdly fitting. Two, Dave Foley (of The Kids In The Hall-fame) whose character is easily the funniest one in the entire movie. And last but far from least, the way in which Stefaniuk used footage from a 70’s film starring obviously a much younger Malcolm McDowell (for those interested, it’s from O Lucky Man!) for McDowell’s flashback sequences. This is done so well that I am amazed that this isn’t being done more often. It works so much better than trying to de-age 70-year-old actors or actresses using either layer upon layer of make-up or even CGI. Filmmakers, take note, this is how you edit!

So to come back to the question at the beginning of this review: No, Suck does not suck.