‘Don’t Suck’ Review – Vampire Horror-Comedy Is Soulless and Uninspired

It’s a shame Don’t Suck doesn’t take its own advice [comic rimshot]. Sorry, are you not a fan of plucking low-hanging fruit? Don’t expect anything more from RJ Collins’ soulless vampire standup horror comedy that tries to manufacture edginess with faceplant jokes about Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Jeffrey Epstein in the first however many minutes. The only laughter you’ll hear throughout this dreadfully unfunny exercise are the crowd reactions added in post-production, since audiences might as well be rooms full of crickets with material this flat.

Just when you thought Matt Rife couldn’t bomb any harder than his first Netflix special, the viral TikTok celebrity plays a Hungarian vampire named Ethan (“My grandmother was Elizabeth Báthory” yadda yadda) who wants to be a standup comedian. Jamie Kennedy plays the veteran road comic Pete, a jaded lifer who becomes the stuffy supernatural comic’s mentor. They set out for a string of gigs before serving as openers for Russell Peters, forming a bond as they perform anywhere from strip clubs to cowboy saloons. Pete can’t believe he’s touring with a vampire, nor that his batty partner finds success so quickly. Cue the Twilight insults and Interview with the Vampire references, because why try harder?

Rick D’Elia’s screenplay tries to cheat around vampire representation by erasing any rules that’d make filming more difficult. Ethan can be in the sun (for long periods), doesn’t have to drink flesh blood, and can see his reflection in mirrors — it’s just a change in eye color and retractable fangs that confirm he’s, in fact, vampiric. “The movies aren’t historically accurate,” Ethan keeps insisting as a copout. Otherwise, it’s just Matt Rife talking about Baroque harpsichord music with the charm of a half-asleep Transylavian butler because that’s the gimmick: he tells centuries-old jokes that aren’t funny, but he’s “Edward” hot and has a Spirit Halloween stage shtick. It’s painful to watch Rife try and smolder through scenes with a third of the presence of a Twilight extra, whether he wrote his character’s material or not.

To make matters worse (as if possible), Don’t Suck is also covered in technical warts. Sound design is embarrassingly uneven, whether that’s ADR spikes in volume or sound effects accomplished with “Baby’s First Foley Set.” Visual effects aren’t much better, whether Ethan’s digital bat form or a body charring into ash with all the pixelated glamor of something that wouldn’t fit the final cut of a SYFY Original. I mean, make your movie by any means necessary — but maybe nail the basics like audio levels for two characters mere feet from one another? Collins displays a disappointing lack of quality control in the final product, from choppy edits to dead air between dialogue (beyond the miserable punchlines).

As for the comedy, Don’t Suck is bafflingly uninspired. How can a movie starring professional comedians not provoke a single audible laugh? A lazy amount of setups work overtime to reach payoffs about dicks, and when not phallic, material hits as if it was scribbled in minutes on bar napkins like an afterthought. There’s a conversation in which Pete admits no one wants to hear from a straight white man anymore, but no grander epiphany beyond the frustration that possesses a scraggly-haired comic with moderate success stuck developing the next big thing. It’s all tied into an unnecessarily sobering emotional subplot that sinks moods even harder without the levity of worthwhile standup interludes, accentuating the film’s failures like a forehead full of pimples on prom night.

“You’ll die laughing,” brags the official promotional poster — but you have more of a shot of dying from boredom if you watch Don’t Suck. The screenplay boasts all the wit of a well-past-prime Scary Movie sequel, the central performances never deserve headliner attention, and the amateur roughness is unignorable. Kennedy’s bringing low energy and Rife is straight-up miscast, as they even struggle to sell the very abilities that garnered their public notoriety. Don’t Suck sure did take a risk going with that title, and golly doe that gamble backfire.

Don’t Suck is now available on VOD outlets.

1.5 out of 5 skulls

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