Though it isn’t all that rare to witness the late Lemmy of Motörhead in a schlocky low-budget horror film, as he starred in several throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, it is one of a kind to see him portray the progenitor and hierarch of a clan of gothic vampires. This coven is situated in contemporary Los Angeles, where they indulge in an endless succession of parties and feeding frenzies, all while insisting on maintaining a low profile to avoid human hunters. However, Sunset Society manages to abuse what little b-grade credibility it earns through its cast and premise with an unbearable slog through monotony and surprising tameness.
Ace (Lemmy Kilmister) is an undead leader with an iron fist who keeps the blood pouring while attempting to keep his ilk wrangled under the radar. However, Gage (Tracii Guns) cannot seem to control his impulses, siring a fledgling vampire knowing full well it may mean their deaths and continuing to feed openly in public. While Gage attempts to hide his indiscretions, Dagger (Dizzy Reed) openly rejects the boredom of his immortality, looking for Sofia (Phoebe Dollar) to transfer his soul into a human to spruce up his existence. All the while, Ace is constantly kept up-to-date by his loyal lieutenant Bronson (Randal Malone), who is constantly off-put by the lowly impulses of many of his fellow vampires.
“…they indulge in an endless succession of parties and feeding frenzies, while insisting on maintaining a low profile…”
The aforementioned rats’ nest of plot elements has a catch. Kilmister passed away in 2015 by complications from cancer, and this film most likely left unfinished before his death. This assumption is due to the majority of the film being bookended by newer, sleeker footage (with actual production value at play, directed by Rolfe Kanefsky) with other, seemingly unrelated/unexplained characters. They contextualize the main story as a “film within the film” and the majority of the runtime they are just sitting and watching the home movie that Sofia made to commemorate her relationship with Ace. This may end up being the biggest letdown of the film, as the opening third actually is wonderfully tongue-in-cheek and defined by snappy dialogue, competent gore effects, and odd yet hilariously effective casting choices (namely Ron Jeremy and Robert Donavan). When the “movie” starts, most elements take a severe nosedive, and the remaining hour is a meandering mess of non-scenes, half-hearted visuals, random cameos (such as Steve-O), and an evident lack of its top-billed heavy mentalist.
There are numerous recurring animated sequences that I can hardly call animated at all, moving more like a low-rent visual novel, which is compounded by the oddly mishmashed soundtrack and horrible dubbing and sound mixing. The pace plods along so frustratingly slow that I was preparing to offer up some comparisons to David DeCoteau, but then I discovered that Kanefsky has written seven films for the director, so it starts to make sense. Not much happens, and not much is done about that. Eventually, the movie finds a reason to end, though little (besides a hysterical line read of “Holy water!? You bitch!”) makes the drudgery worth it.
While fans of this kind of filmmaking will certainly gravitate towards it with a general curiosity, they won’t encounter much for their trouble besides a desire to see more of Kilmister’s surprisingly low-key performance. A chore more than anything else, Sunset Society ultimately fails to deliver on almost every level.
Sunset Society (2018) Directed by Phoebe Dollar, Rolfe Kanefsky. Written by Phoebe Dollar, Rolfe Kanefsky. Starring Lemmy Kilmister, Tracii Guns, Dizzy Reed, Phoebe Dollar, Randal Malone.
2 out of 10