||Gina Gershon is the major reason to consider seeing Alex Steyermark’s ragged, melodramatic little movie about a struggling all-girl rock band--no masterpiece, to be sure, though compared to a stinker like Alex Proyas’s similarly themed (though more lighthearted) “Garage Days,” it strikes a much more pleasant chord. Gershon, who also served as one of the producers, plays Jacki, the lead singer of the group that includes guitarist Faith (Lori Petty), bassist Tracy (Drea de Matteo) and drummer Sally (Shelly Cole). Jacki’s on the verge of turning forty, and is considering finally abandoning her dream of rock stardom if the band doesn’t get a recording contract soon; to make her mood worse, she’s just been dumped by her beautiful girlfriend Jessica (Shakara Ledard) because she’s more interested in her music than their relationship. Tracy, on the other hand, is a drug-addled rich kid whose participation in the group is just one more element in a rebellion against her father; she also has a repulsive boyfriend named Nick (Ivan Martin). Faith is much more down-to-earth, supporting herself by giving guitar lessons to singularly untalented students who show up at the group’s gigs. And Sally, who’s Faith’s significant other, has a surprise for her comrades when her brother Animal (Marc Blucas) shows up straight from prison and takes up residence in one of their pad’s empty rooms.
“Prey for Rock and Roll,” scripted by Cheri Lovedog and Robin Whitehouse from the former’s semi-autobiographical play, is very good in catching the grungy atmosphere of the low-rent rock scene: The club settings, the rehearsal loft, the scuzziness of the music biz (encapsulated in Eddie Driscoll’s performance as a sleazy promoter named Chuck) are all convincingly portrayed. (The house where the girls reside isn’t quite so realistic: Jacki’s bedroom is perfectly enormous, and when she and Jessica enjoy a romp there prior to their breakup--pretty steamy stuff, by the way--the place is bedecked with blazing candles in the absurd fashion that seems de rigueur in love scenes nowadays.) But while it gets a good deal of the background right, the picture stumbles in the dramatic department. The misadventures of this bunch tend toward musical soap opera: there’s a rape (followed by a revenge sequence strongly laced with poetic justice), halting romance, lurches toward twelve-step recovery programs, and even a sad and unexpected death. On the other hand, the characters are generally interesting if not fully credible, and they’re mostly well played. Gershon is magnetic as the hard-boiled but vulnerable Jacki, and Petty and Cole create an affecting twosome. De Matteo comes off awfully strong as the bad girl of the bunch, but at least she takes risks. On the male side, Nick proves even slimier than Chuck, and Martin captures his loathsome quality nicely. As a concept Animal is perhaps the most intriguing character of all: a big, heavily tattooed guy who’s revealed as strangely sweet and honorable. It has to be said, though, that the role doesn’t give Blucas much more to do than to stand about looking likably intense--though he does it well enough.
“Prey for Rock and Roll” was obviously made on a small budget, but Steyermark and his production team, including cinematographer Antonio Calvache, do a good job of using their modest resources effectively. The picture might have no more chance for mass recognition than the band it portrays, but, like the group, it has some small-time drive and ambition.