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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Suck (Blu-ray)
Suck (Blu-ray)
Entertainment One // R // September 28, 2010 // Region A
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 14, 2010 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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Wait, it was Wesley Willis who said that rock 'n roll will never die, wasn't it? Turns out he was right. Well, kinda: it's more of an immortal, walking undead sort of thing these days.

The
Big Wolf reunion?
Winners have been slogging it out in dingy clubs and dive bars for right at a decade now. Whatever chances they had of making it are probably six or seven years behind 'em in the rear view mirror, but they're still keeping their fingers crossed that all they need is one big break...the right A&R guy or something in the crowd and they're on their way to champagne wishes and caviar dreams. ...but nope. It's just one hole-in-the-wall after another, pretty much playing for beer money. Oh, but then their bassist Jennifer (Jennifer Paré) gets munched on by a vampire, and it turns out that having a foxy undead chick in the band is a pretty damned good marketing hook. I mean, their website starts blowing up, people actually show up to their gigs...looks like they're actually on their way. 'Course, a girl's gotta eat, and Jenn is leaving kind of a massive stack of bodies behind her as the band putters around Canada and the Northeast. Lucky for them, they have a French-Canadian roadie (Chris Ratz) who does the whole Renfield thing to hack apart what's left and hide any incriminating evidence. The cops may not have caught their scent yet, but The Winners do have legendary vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsig (Malcolm McDowell) just a step or two behind. Oh yeah, and if one vamp in the band scores 'em this much attention, how much merch can they move if someone else gets chomped on the neck...?

So, here's some of what you have to look forward to in Suck: Plenty of stop motion animation. Arterial red stuff being guzzled up through a straw to the neck. Moby spattered in blood, dressed in a leather vest with no shirt, Halford-style, and fronting a cock-rock band called The Secretaries of Steak. Total body dismemberment. Henry Rollins throwing on a Huey Lewis-flavored mullet to play an overcaffeinated jackass morning DJ named Rockin' Roger. Homages to the covers of classic albums like "Abbey Road", "The Kids Are Alright", and "Electric Warrior". Alex Lifeson playing a gun-happy 'merican working Border Patrol duty. Alice Cooper as the Devil or something close enough to it. Kids in the Hall alum Dave Foley popping up as The Winners' skeevy sometimes-manager in between calls to Japan. Iggy Pop gets to be the wizened, wise oldtimer. Malcolm McDowell stars as a vampire slayer who's rocking both an eyepatch and a pair of sunglasses. Oh, and rather than cast someone else for Van
[click on the thumbnail to enlarge]
Helsig's flashbacks, Suck splices together nearly-forty-year-old shots of McDowell from O Lucky Man! So yeah, it's a comedy with a splattery vampire deal going on, it's a road movie, and...why not? It's kind of a musical too. The movie kind of just nudges the story off to the sidelines every few minutes so a band can take the stage or just splice in a music video.

It kind of works out that Suck is pretty awesome because otherwise, I'd have to make some awful pun like "Suck's title is truth in advertising", and no one wants me to do that. This is just such a ridiculously fun flick. There's a pretty steady parade of rock stars who are clearly having a blast with their bit parts, and most of 'em go cacklingly over-the-top with it too. I mean, Henry Rollins doing the zoo crew morning DJ routine had me howling, and the sight of the notoriously vegan Moby with a USDA tattoo and chomping on raw steak...love it, love it, love it. Everyone on the bill is just having such a great time that it really is infectious, and I don't have that kind of reaction to a movie all that often. It just feels as if Suck was cast expressly for me. I've had a crush on Nikki de Boer since Cube first came out, I'm a card-carrying Kids in the Hall nut, plus my longstanding Big Wolf on Campus obsession means I was
[click on the thumbnail to enlarge]
already a fan of Jessica Paré and Danny Smith. The whole movie hinges on the fact that you buy that Jennifer is magnetically alluring despite-slash-because of the whole undead bloodsucking thing, and Paré pulls it off perfectly. Even though Suck's sense of humor can be really hit-or-miss, there's still such a strong sense of personality and that glad-to-be-here-dom shining through that I never found myself cringing at a gag. Even more routine stuff is tackled really well. I mean, chances are that anyone reading this has seen seven or eight movies or TV shows where a girl starts to go down on a guy, and then there's a smash cut to a corn dog or someone taking a bite out of a sandwich. It's a joke I've seen done over and over, sure, but Suck does it so well that I laughed anyway. This is a movie with plenty of good will to go around.

Rob Stefaniuk -- who writes, directs, and stars in Suck -- doesn't really look to be holding anything back. The visuals are ambitiously stylish, and if I'd waltzed into the room cold during one of the musical numbers, I'd have had no problem believing I was looking at a big-budget music video from a seasoned director. It's easy to get swept up into the look of the whole thing, and even if you're not into the movie so much, Suck looks so cool that it's worth ogling for the visuals alone. The songs scattered throughout the movie are pretty great straight across the board too. There's a little bit of genre-hopping -- mostly chugging alt-rock but with some '70s soul and lush, bouncy '60s pop in there too -- and there's really not a misstep in the bunch. After hearing "So Close it Hurts", which has kind of a late-'60s power-pop feel to it, I went ahead and bought the soundtrack, so this is me putting my money where my mouth is too. Suck also screams along at a pretty manic pace. Stefaniuk keeps the storytelling lean and uncluttered, directing most of his attention to the personalities, the songs, and the visuals. Okay, there's not much in the way of lush characterization, and the plot may be pretty thin, but it's still really clever just the same, and the movie continually veers away from where I expected it to go. I get the sense that Suck knows exactly what kind of movie it wants to be, and it pulls all that off really well. So many genre flicks play it overly safe, rehashing the same formulas and just feeling completely interchangeable, but Suck really does feel like something different. Love the cast. Love the visuals. Love the songs. I laughed out loud a lot, something I generally don't do all that often. Oh, and this Blu-ray disc sounds great, looks even better, and is surprisingly cheap. So, yeah: Highly Recommended.


Video
Shot with
[click on the thumbnail to enlarge]
the RED camera, Suck expectedly looks pretty awesome in high-def. Whenever the photography has any light at all to play with, this 1080p24 presentation lobs out a really robust sense of texture, and detail and clarity are both pretty much first-rate. The image gets a lot noisier and flattens out in some darker scenes, but that's not at all a constant headache. Suck has an intensely stylized look to it, and that translates flawlessly to Blu-ray: it's kind of a blast to just look at it. The palette is generally colder and dialed-down, but that's just so that when Suck does fiddle with the dials, the colors make that much more of an impact. Its use of color really is creative and striking. Contrast is deliberately blown out in the Crossroads, and there's a flashback to the early '70s that melds genuine vintage film footage with soft, speckled stuff shot in the here and now.

I really can't find much of anything to gripe about here. There's no heavy-handed noise reduction, no edge enhancement, and...well, the whole thing was shot digitally, so the only speckling and wear is the stuff that was meticulously added in during post. The bitrate of this AVC encode is pretty light -- the whole movie, audio and all, clocks in at 14.6 gigs -- but I couldn't spot any macroblocking. That video noise can definitely get pretty spastic at times, such as the opening sequence in the hole-in-the-wall club, but I think that's more of an issue with the way Suck was shot rather than a hiccup with the encode. This really is such a great looking Blu-ray disc -- I mean, come on! -- and it's definitely worth the extra couple of bucks over the DVD release.

Suck is very lightly letterboxed to preserve its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and its AVC encode fits on a BD-25 disc with plenty of room to spare.


Audio
...and Suck sounds pretty great too, sporting a six-channel, 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on Blu-ray. There are really only a couple of action sequences, but the mix gets pretty aggressive during 'em, what with a vampire encircling his prey, bodies being flung clear across the room, and all. Even in lower-key sequences, the sound design still keeps splashing on a good bit of atmospheric color...buzzing insects, cars panning around, background chatter in the clubs, a bunch of vintage recording gear warming up...that sort of thing. Even without a bunch of hypercaffeinated split-surround effects and all, the mix just sounds really vibrant and alive. The movie's dialogue consistently comes through really well too. 'Course, the best thing about the track is the music. There's a lot of it, and every last song comes through perfectly. The low-end is tight and punchy, making an impact without ever sounding overcooked, and the instrumentation takes full advantage of all the different channels at its fingertips. I'm generally not so much a fan of hearing the same voice attack from multiple directions at once, but the way Suck does this exclusively for its songs works really well. No complaints at all.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also belted out on here along with optional English (SDH) subtitles.


Extras
  • Making Suck: Down to the Crossroads (45 min.; HD): Suck's
    [click on the thumbnail to enlarge]
    45 minute making-of doc tackles pretty much everything: set design, make-up effects, shaping the look of such a stylized movie, the visual effects...all the way down to hair and wardrobe. There's also a quick peek at the original pitch reel with a different vampire attack, footage of the songs being rehearsed and recorded, and a detailed look at the stop-motion animation process. Pretty much everyone on both sides of the camera is interviewed, including all of the very prominent musicians who chime in with small parts. Alice Cooper in particular has a lot to say, lobbing out some insight about the difficulty in capturing the allure of rock on film, how screenwriting and songwriting really aren't all that different, and noting that he thinks horror movies can't help having a comedic streak anyway. Writer/director/star Rob Stefaniuk talks about the headaches of wearing all those different hats on the shoot and not trying to make these characters all that likeable. There's also some chatter about how much vampires and rock musicians have in common along with some comments about how all these rock stars wound up on-board.

    What with the Movie Network logo and all up front, I get the sense that "Making Suck" is supposed to be at least a little promotional, and it does have a bit of recap and a lot of snippets from the flick. Unlike the HBO First Look dreck we get on this side of the border, that slightly self-promotional bent doesn't really ever get in the way, though. I really dug "Making Suck", and it's extremely comprehensive. There's really not all that much overlap with the commentary track either, surprisingly enough. Definitely worth a look.

  • Audio Commentary: Director of photography Gregor Hagey hops in front of the mic with writer/director/star/probably-other-slashes Rob Stefaniuk for Suck's commentary track. As you could probably guess what with a cinematographer and director sharing the bill, a lot of the discussion revolves around shaping the look of the movie, from shooting the vampires at 48fps to using an infrared filter to heighten one key concert sequence. If you're not all that into the technical end of things, there are still plenty of other highlights: explaining why Eddie Van Helsig is rocking those sunglasses, pointing out oodles of album cover homages I shamefully missed, deftly intercutting footage of Malcolm McDowell's O Lucky Man! even though it was shot thirtysomething years earlier, and even describing a few scenes that had been snipped out of the script. It's a track with a lot of personality, and that pretty much always makes for a great listen. Definitely helps if you're up to hearing lots of technical stuff, though.

  • Music Video (4 min.; SD): Burning Brides' "Flesh & Bone" is one of the standout songs in the movie, and it's presented again here in music video form, only this time it's in standard definition and really, really, insanely, inhumanly, eardrum-shatteringly loud.

  • Trailer (2 min.; SD): Last up is a standard-def theatrical trailer.

It's too bad there isn't a reel of deleted scenes -- there's a needle-sharing sequence early on that was filmed and yanked out -- and I would've liked to have seen the full pitch reel that was excerpted in the making-of doc too. Still, even though there aren't all that many bullet points in this stretch of the review, what is included is really good.


The Final Word
Oh, wow. The MPAA has "vampire violence/gore" on its list of naughty things that'll score an R-rating. Had no idea they got that specific, so I guess I learned something new today.

So, anyway: Suck! If the idea of a road trip/comedy/horror/rock musical mash-up sounds like it's up your alley, the smart money says you're probably right. Suck is just such a ridiculous amount of fun. It's one of those movies where everyone in front of the camera is clearly having such a blast that it's kind of infectious, and Suck would be worth the price of entry for the rock star cameos alone. The whole thing is stylish as hell, and the selection of songs -- from licensed classics like "TV Eye" to the stack of music recorded exclusively for the flick -- is so awesome that I bought the soundtrack immediately afterwards. With so many indie horror flicks sticking pretty unwaveringly to the same stale, familiar formulas, it's kind of amazing to think that something as distinctive and different as Suck even exists. Highly Recommended, especially since Entertainment One is nice enough to keep their prices so low. This Blu-ray disc carries the same $24.98 MSRP as the DVD, and several online retailers carry Suck in high-def for $15 or $16. That's pretty unreal for a shiny new release.


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