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Suck (2009)

by on 2015/01/27

Suck (2009)


“I’m from a much older breed. What you kids call ‘old school’.”

* * * *

Suck is not the film I expected it to be. And that’s okay, because it truly rocks.

First, here are some things that it is not. It is not Blood Ties, a supernatural procedural set in night-time Toronto. It is also not a gothic Nancy Baker tale of life on Queen Street West. And it features little dark home-grown music, say The Viletones, National Velvet, An April March, or Front Line Assembly.

In fact, you would be ill-advised to expect any Cure or Siouxsie here. Instead, expect references to The Beatles, The Doors, Bruce Springsteen, and Van Halen. Expect borderline-country, folk, Flamenco, pop, and singer-songwriting. Expect a cameo by a prog rocker from Rush.

Still here? Fine, because you’re going to have a lot of fun anyway.

Everything else amounts to a blend of Guy Terrifico and WolfCop. Or maybe Ginger Snaps and Spinal Tap. With vampires.

For a lot of people, the “why” of Suck may amount to the “whom” of Suck. The people involved are awesome, a raft of cameos from a Who’s Who of celebrities: Alice Cooper, Nicole de Boer, Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall), Alex Lifeson (Rush), Malcolm McDowell, Moby, Iggy Pop, Carole Pope (Rough Trade), and Henry Rollins.

Those were just the biggest names I recognized. A too-brief scene, one of many highlights, had me looking up Joe Pingue. And the rest of the cast is great too, especially the members of the main band: Paul Anthony (Blade Trinity), Mike Lobel (Degrassi Goes Hollywood), Jessica Pare (Stardom), Chris Ratz (The Englishman’s Boy), and Rob Stefaniuk (Phil the Alien).

In fact, Stefaniuk is the big wheel here, having also written and directed.

It’s a simple tale well told of a struggling band, as it tours its act. From Montreal through Pittsburgh — actually all shot in Toronto — they rise from obscurity to fame. Which might not be so bad if the fame weren’t notoriety, less for their musical talent than being undead homicidal in-fighters.

To be clear though, the songs are entertaining, even the non-licenced tracks. Plus it looks great, with moody lighting, grain, and colours manipulated as appropriate. Makeup, exposures, fades, and fast cuts all evoke the “vampire experience”. It employs a successful gimmick of integrating old footage of a younger McDowell. Transitions between each city are marked by a driving animation which both recalls and surpasses that one used in the original Hard Core Logo.

Wherever it aims, it hits. Suck proves as frenetically fun as dark. It’s a musical horror I somehow don’t detest. In fact, I kind of love this gothic comedy.

Well, maybe not the stabbings and dismemberments but, you know…

* * * *

Rated 14A (Canada) / R (United States)

90 minutes

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