In 2008/9, I worked on the indie feature, SUCK. It’s a rock-and-roll vampire road-movie comedy directed by Toronto’s Rob Stefaniuk and produced by Capri Films’ Robin Crumley. For a low-budget feature (and I realize that’s not the best way to preface a compliment) SUCK is well-written, well-cast, funny, and in places very funny.
However, despite being well received at both the Toronto International and South-By-Southwest Film Festivals, it was denied any interest in a theatrical release by Canadian distributors. The longer I waited for someone to pick it up, the more I wondered what the problem was. Sure, you could argue that vampire films have saturated the market lately, but that’s seeing things from the late-summer of 2010 (SUCK was completed over a year ago). It was a no-brainer, even for a limited release: who wouldn’t like a rock vampire comedy w/ cameos by Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, and Alex Lifeson (among others)? It’s the sort of smart-but-not-overly-self-conscious effort which seems perfectly balanced for a theatrical audience.
Nothing happened. Well, actually, less-than-nothing happened: a lot of crap was released in Canadian theatres instead. Crap like the widely-released and quickly forgotten Gunless, which begged the question: if nobody is interested in seeing Westerns in theatres, what could possibly have been the selling point of a comedy-romance-Western with (as you might have guessed) no gunfighting? The answer is that it doesn’t matter: this is Canada, and film distributors prefer to release crap like Gunless and GravyTrain than anything which could hold an audience’s sustained interest. Evidently, the point of film distribution in Canada is to go through the motions.
Well, it’s too late for Canada. While SUCK secured a limited theatrical distribution in the U.S., it’s out on DVD here (the US DVD release is September 28th). This means it will only be screened here through niche film festivals. While that’s not a bad thing, it pisses me off that a funny, well-produced film (rare creature that is) should be all but abandoned after a successful festival run. This situation is certainly not helped by SUCK‘s (pardon the pun) anemic website: it makes no mention of any upcoming film screenings, DVD release dates, or even contact information. Who the hell is the site for? This is what happens when you don’t have a distributor to help with publicity. Not even the local indie journals can help: NOW Magazine completely omits any mention of it, as a film or DVD release. How’s that for hometown support? Thankfully, The Toronto Star’s Peter Howell is the only mainstream film critic to put the DVD release of SUCK on public record (in glowing terms no less…and slagging Gunless ).
I want people to see this film. Not because I worked on it, not because I want to punish producers who keep banking on dead-brained populist Paul Gross vehicles, but because this is a worthy film. It’s not Sophie’s Choice, it’s not going to change your life. But you’ll laugh. I just wish it had been allowed the opportunity of a theatrical run, which it so clearly deserved. It works better in a theatre than on DVD: with a pumped-up audience rather than in the controlled confines of your livingroom. That said, I will be pleased if, by my writing about it, one more person will see this movie than if I hadn’t.