Written by, directed by and starring Rob Stefaniuk, Suck is a horror comedy in which Stefaniuk plays Joey, the lead singer of a rock band called The Winners. Having paid their dues over the last ten years or so without having a whole lot to show for it, until their formerly semi-normal bass player, Jennifer (Jessica Pare), disappears only to reappear shortly thereafter, newly transformed into a slutty vampiric rock and roll machine.
You see, Jennifer thought she was leaving that night with a guy who was going to get her some dope, but nope, he turns out to be a vampire and he plants his fangs right into her. Much to the dismay of Joey, who was once romantically involved with her, she starts to steal the spotlight both on and off the stage, though her new personality obviously comes with some drawbacks, not the least of which is the need for human blood.
Featuring some amusing cameos from the likes of Iggy Pop, Dimitri Coats, Alice Cooper, Alex Lifeson, Moby, and Henry Rollins and also some interesting supporting cast members like Malcolm McDowell as an eye patch wearing Van Helsing type and Dave Foley as The Winners' manager but the real scene stealer here is an actor named Chris Ratz who plays a French Canadian roadie and manages to elicit more laughs than the rest of the cast combined. Rollins, as a smart ass DJ, and Iggy, as a slightly out of touch recording studio employee, get some good lines and play their parts well, but Ratz has this endearingly dopey charm to his character that lets us get to like him as he dotes on Jennifer and follows her around, his heart very clearly on his sleeve.
Although the film has a fair bit of shock value thanks to some prolific and interesting gore effects the movie does have, at its core, a rather sincere message about the worth of friendship and how various levels of fame and success can pull at those established relationships. As Jennifer becomes increasingly more popular than the rest of the band members it obviously takes its toll on them, Joey in particular, and the main cast members do bring this to the forefront of their performances throughout the film. With the bulk of the picture not surprisingly played for laughs, there's still enough here to hold your interest from a thematic and character driven perspective in addition to the comedic one so prominent in the movie. That said, it doesn't really have much to its finale. It's an entertaining, amusing and generally strong low budget picture but when it's all over and done with, if there's supposed to be more than entertainment value here, the point seems to have been lost somewhere along the way. Outside of the obvious 'friends are good' bits, that is - but we probably know that already, right?
The movie is also quite well shot and on a visual level, it's definitely got its own thing going on. There's a varied and impressive use of color throughout and the costumes that the different characters wear throughout the movie fit in with the story and the scene that it's set in quite well. The camera work is fluid and strong and the effects work, while not always perfect, more often than not works very well. The music used throughout the picture is also quite good and it too fits the whole vampire/rock and roll scene without ever feeling too forced or crammed into the picture. Rather, the musical bits here fit really well, and if much of the movie feels like a music video strung to together by bits and pieces of story and plot, well, so be it - at least it's never dull and it's all consistently good fun. There are some well played digs at different aspects of them music industry and also at more clichéd aspects of 'vampire culture' throughout the film that some will appreciate more than others, but overall, Suck is fun. It might not ever make much of a serious point, but it doesn't have to - it entertains and that's generally enough.
Suck looks okay in this anamorphic widescreen transfer but there are some problems with color reproduction from time to time. Shot digitally and on a low budget, the movie is clean and clear and shows no problems outside of some shots where, yeah, the colors look a little over or under saturated. Black levels are generally okay, if not reference quality, There's some ringing noticeable around the hotter stage lights used during the concert sequences but overall, the movie looks good - not amazing, but good.
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track on this disc is a pretty good one, with some nice directional effects used throughout the film and, as you'd expect, really good use of music. Bass response is tight and strong without sounding too pumped up while the levels are generally well balanced. There are no problems with hiss or distortion to note and overall, everything sounds quite good here. Optional English closed captioning is provided and an alternate Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, also in English, is provided.
The best of the extra features is the audio commentary with writer-director Rob Stefaniuk and his cinematographer, Gregor Hagey. This is a pretty thorough talk, done with the right sense of humor behind it, that covers a lot of pre-production details before launching into a discussion of the casting, the various musicians who appear in the film, and many of the themes and ideas that Stefaniuk wanted to get across in the picture.
From there, check out the making of documentary, Down To The Crossroads: Or How To Make A Movie Suck (45:06) which contains some amusing interviews with different cast and crew members, including Rollins who makes a point of telling us that he helped craft his character on some disreputable types that he met in the music industry. There's some amusing stories told here and if you enjoyed the movie, it's worth watching. Rounding out the extras is a music video for the Burning Brides' Flesh And Bone, a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter stops. A few previews for unrelated E1 titles play before you get to the main menu screen.
Suck isn't a perfect film but it is a really enjoyable one so long as you are in the right frame of mind for it. Some strong lead performances combined with some really enjoyable supporting players help fill out an interesting cast and E1's DVD release looks decent and sounds good. Some fine supplements round out the package nicely, and the release comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.