Should rock ‘n’ roll vampires be clever?


on September 11, 2009 by Barbara Goslawski

Suck is a great idea for a film—on paper. Trouble is, writer/director Rob Stefaniuk bites off more than he can chew in this star-studded rock ‘n’ roll fantasy vampire flick. Juggling conventions, skewering clichés and referencing genre cues, Stefaniuk packs the film with so many insider jokes that what could have been a wild ride simply isn’t. Audiences will no doubt flock to see cameos by the likes of Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Moby in the same film but, once the disappointment spreads, audience numbers will dwindle.

Suck follows the misadventures of The Winners, an aging, second rate rock band with an unquenchable thirst for stardom. It’s a tired story, one that the writer/director tries valiantly to revive. Stefaniuk stars as Joey, the lead singer who serves as the whiney moral centre of the group—until he too gives in to the darker forces that promise fame and fortune. He also co-wrote seven of Suck ’s 11 soundtrack songs. And therein lies a major problem. Suck becomes a vehicle for Stefaniuk to show off his skills as director, scriptwriter, actor, songwriter, singer, guitar player and aficionado of both cinematic conventions and rock ‘n’ roll music history. Sound exhausting? It certainly is.

The story takes off when the bass player (Jessica Paré) follows a sexy vampire home one night after a gig. When she returns the next day, more seductive and talented than ever, the boys in the band want a taste of what she had. As they travel from town to town, the band’s popularity broadens. Their dirty little secret, however, becomes increasingly difficult to control.

Luckily, Suck has a great cast. Jessica Paré and Dave Foley embrace their stock characters with relish. The rock stars are obviously enjoying their cameos and Alice Cooper stands out in this regard. He’s practically beaming as he nails every rock star Goth stereotype, especially the ones he originated. Malcolm McDowell stars as Eddie Van Helsing, vigilante vampire hunter. (He is also currently starring as Michael Myers’ psychiatrist in Halloween II.) His character in Suck references such works as the film, O, Lucky Man, 2004’s Van Helsing and Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.
One could argue that Suck is a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of success, but that’s a tired old theme too, and one that’s not supported by the barrage of pop culture influences in the film. Besides, no matter how you look at it, the film remains a flimsy story strung together by whimsical references. One joke involves famous album covers while the string of music video-like performances by The Winners acts as an increasingly tiresome secondary narrative thread.

Yes, vampires and rock ‘n’ roll are a natural fit, and yes they’re both fun in their own ways, but someone forgot to tell Stefaniuk that a rock ‘n’ roll vampire flick can be fun on its own. No need for it to be overly clever.

Distributor: Unknown
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Jessica Paré, Dave Foley, Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop
Director/Screenwriter: Rob Stefaniuk
Producers: Robin Crumley and Jeff Rogers
Genre: Fantasy/Horror/Comedy/Musical
Rating: TBD
Running time: 90 min.
Release date: TBD

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