Directed by Rob Stefaniuk
Part of the Contemporary World Cinema Programme
By Sean Kelly
I can remember back to the 2004 film festival when I was interested in seeing Rob Stefaniuk’s film Phil the Alien. I was all set to order my ticket, but it ended up going off sale right as I was processing the order. I made it up to myself by ensuring Stefaniuk’s latest comedy Suck was one of my initial ticket purchases for this year’s festival. I am glad that I did, since there is a good chance that this may end up being my favourite film of the festival.
Even though Stefaniuk has been working on Suck ever since Phil the Alien, I do say the film couldn’t have come out at a better time, since we are right in the middle of a big vampire craze, with the popularity of True Blood and Twilight. The added twist here is that this film features rock-and-roll vampires.
Essentially the plot goes like this: Stefaniuk plays the lead singer of a down-on-their-luck rock band that plays in small clubs around Canada and the US. After a gig, the band’s bassist Jennifer (Jessica Paré) disappears with a creepy stranger and is next seen sporting pale skin, glowing blue eyes, and fangs. Jennifer’s vampire persona ends up being a big hit for a band (despite her habit of killing people to satisfy her hunger) and the rest of the band slowly wants to join this lifestyle.
One of the big highlights of Suck is how Stefaniuk managed to grab some big names from both music and acting for roles in the film, a feat that can really be considered rare for a Canadian production. The film features appearances from musical legends such as Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and Henry Rollins. Also, in a funny case of self-parody, the soft-spoken vegan electronica artist Moby makes an appearance as a loud-mouthed, self-obsessed rock star named “Beef.” But the biggest casting surprise in the film is Malcom McDowell appearing as the vampire hunter tracking down the band. Rounding out the appearances in the film is the great Dave Foley as the band’s manager.
While it’s not exactly a musical — unless you count an early scene involving a group of singing vampires — being a rock-and-roll film (in addition to a vampire film) it’s got a pretty decent soundtrack. All the band’s songs were written and performed by Stefaniuk and the film also features some favourites from the classic rock era.
Overall, I thought Suck was a very fun film and I definitely consider it the highlight of my festival experience so far.