Horror and hard rock go together well. Like peanut butter and jelly, the two complement each other and serve to enhance one another in fun and exciting ways. There’s nothing quite like watching a slasher villain begin to gore their victims while thrashing drums and bass come blaring in to underscore the carnage. Studio 666 is a blatant attempt to bridge these two even further together, making a slasher film starring the Foo Fighters.
I’ll say this right now: your enjoyment of Studio 666 is not going to be reliant on how much you like Foo Fighters. You could put any rock band in the middle of this story and you’d probably get the same result. You’ll get a bunch of people that aren’t naturally actors try to act, do a passable job at it, and you’ll get a lot of gruesome kills. It’s a horror-comedy that isn’t a complete slamdunk in either category but does a fine enough job where my eyes never glazed over in boredom.
Director: B. J. McDonnell
Release Date: February 25, 2022
Before we get started, yes, this movie has a theme song by John Carpenter. No, I don’t know how they got him to make a new opening horror movie song, but it’s decidedly creepy and very much worth your time.
Anyway, our story begins with Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters trying to write their tenth studio album. Dave wants to go big for it but is hitting writer’s block, so one of the studio executives, played by Jeff Garlin, sets them up in a mansion that was the home to a horrifying series of murders in the 90s. As Dave soon discovers, the mansion is home to demons -complete with their own Necronomicon- and they begin to possess him in an attempt to complete a Satanic album to bring darkness and suffering to the world. They also tell him to kill his bandmates, because at that point why not?
As a bit of real-world history, the film was shot in secret and was originally meant to tie into the Foo Fighters’ actual tenth studio album, Medicine at Midnight. The movie was filmed at the same location they created the album and Grohl swears that paranormal occurrences took place while they were making the album, like audio tracks being added when no one was around that consisted of silent microphone static. The album and the film were both made in early 2020, but the film’s production had to be shut down because, you know… plague. The film was still kept a tight secret and eventually finished with Grohl announcing it in November of last year. None of this really serves to impact my opinion of the film, but I thought the history behind the production of this movie and the band’s real-life tenth studio album was interesting and compelling. Studio 666 isn’t interesting or compelling though, but it’s really not trying to be.
The film knows exactly what it is. It’s a fairly generic slasher movie that is somewhat elevated by the band’s reputation. It’s almost glacial at the beginning of the film, taking nearly half of the movie’s runtime to fully get to Grohl’s possession and assault on his bandmates. Until then we’re repeatedly told the mansion they’re at is haunted and we see the demons milling about in secret. We know that there’s going to be violence, so to see the movie drag its heels gets tedious after a while.
The film focuses on Grohl, and while he isn’t a bad actor, coming across as likable and well-intentioned several times, I can’t say the same for the rest of the band. Some of the band members are able to bring unique chemistry to the film, like Taylor Hawkins’ increasing frustrations with Grohl and being the only one to really notice that something’s odd with the mansion, or keyboardist Rami Jaffee being a sex-crazed hippie and home to most of the film’s comedy. That and Kenny G. The best thing I can say about the rest of the band members is that they’re at least not looking directly into the camera as they poorly read off their lines, most likely from cue cards held offscreen.
The film only comes alive after we fulfill the basic premise of the plot. Once Dave Grohl becomes possessed, seeing him mug to the camera with vampire’s teeth, float around menacingly, eat his band members, and commit visceral executions are a delight. The kills in Studio 666 may not be the best ones in horror movie history, but damn, how can you not love two people having sex only for Dave Grohl to vivisect them with a chainsaw? Art or not, that’s just popcorn material right there.
It’s those moments where I had the most fun. The band is never too serious about the story. They know exactly what kind of movie they’re in, so they never try to make things too heavy… for the most part. While the beginning took its sweet time getting the characters where they needed to be, the ending of the movie feels like they jammed in several different climaxes at once and gets very serious very quickly. I counted no less than four different places the movie could have ended and all of them are crammed into the last ten minutes with an ending that feels way darker than it needed to be given the material up until that point.
The comedy is ultimately enjoyable at the end of the day and the gore is great. I just wish there was more of it. There’s so much set-up going on that by the time we got to the juicy bits, I was nearly checked out. I got back into it, but then I began to check out again once we reached the climax. I can safely say that I really only loved about 30 minutes of this hour and 40-minute movie. Well, that and its music. The hard rock that the band plays during their recording sessions, as well as the secret album Grohl discovers in the basement, are pretty solid stuff. Give me a soundtrack to this film and I’d happily listen to it.
If you’re a fan of the Foo Fighters, you’ll get a kick out of Studio 666. This is an old-school horror throwback that has its moments, but the uneven pace really does let the movie down. Its highs are very high, but its lows are just boring and tiresome. I shouldn’t be checking my phone when demons and a disemboweled raccoon are chasing two middle-aged men in a basement, or when an entire fight scene just consists of two men kicking each other in the nuts repeatedly. That’s the kind of mood that Studio 666 created. It was this close to being a must-see horror movie but failed to truly reach that point.