Studio 666 – Review

I’m pretty fond of The Foo Fighters, a band formed by Dave Grohl in ’94 during the aftermath of Cobain’s suicide. The group went on to create hit after hit (Wasting Light is still an absolute banger of an album), with most audiences overjoyed at their continued output. Grohl has appeared as an actor a few times, most notably as the Devil in Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny (where he rocks out in an attempt to win the soul of Kyle Gass), but mostly he’s appeared in documentaries about music in general and his band in particular. When Studio 666 was announced in November of 2021, shot in secret alongside the recording of the band’s tenth album, Medicine at Midnight, I bought a ticket to the hype train and patiently waited for whatever this thing would be.

Turns out it’s a solid 6.5 out of 10, but there’s a lot of fun to be had here despite the unjustified 106-minute runtime.

Most of the joy to be found here sits with the wild performances of the band themselves. They’ve been reimagined as a series of rock ‘n’ roll caricatures, broad and hilarious when you don’t look too closely. Dave Grohl is channeling a lot of Jack Black energy, hitting some of the same comedic beats while toning down some of the manic scat-singing energy the prominent actor is known for. He’s matched in hilarity by keyboardist Rami Jaffee, reimagined for the film as a universal-energy-worshipping goofus that’s insanely horny for the neighbor, an enigmatic woman named Samantha (Whitney Cummings). Taylor Hawkins is, perhaps, the closest to his stage persona as anyone else in the film without going too big, while Pat Smear seems closer to Dave Bautista in Guardian’s of the Galaxy than a rock star.

This is a lengthy film full of big, silly performances, and the thing that keeps it from tipping into disappointment is the kills. Chainsaws, garden shears, a cymbal, everything everything is fair game for a murder weapon. Every kill is so utterly ridiculous that it ripped me back from the edge of boredom and back into the game of “what’s happening at this Encino mansion we’re trying to record an album in?” It’s surprising how many out-of-nowhere deaths come at the audience, particularly when they’re this creative about slaughtering America’s favorite rock band (don’t @ me), but they all work. It’s a symphony of blood, one that manages to echo films like We Summon Darkness [2019] and Jennifer’s Body [2007] while still maintaining its own sense of style and focus.

My only true quibble with this unwieldy thing is how long it is. A horror flick like this feels like it should sit in the same territory as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre [1974] by staying under 90 minutes, but by pushing further it manages to deflate itself over and over, only propelled forward once more when there’s a particularly solid joke or brutal kill. Instead, it meanders, leaving its points to be made and beats hit only after you’ve started to wonder “what the hell are we still doing in this scene?”

That disappointment in runtime doesn’t get anywhere near my fondness for the music, something every movie about a rock ‘n’ roll group should celebrate. The band is in fine form and wrote both new music for themselves as well as creating music for a fictional band within the text of the film. It’s more aggressive than some of what they’ve created in the past (think “Limousine” and not “Everlong”), but the heavy-metal sound fits a story about an aging rock star fighting demon possession far more than the poppier stuff would have. Adding in a theme written by John Carpenter (at the again director’s insistence after the band asked him to cameo as a sound mixer) and you’ve got an all-timer of a soundtrack going.

Your love for this is going to correspond with how much you love The Foo Fighters. Hell, my fiancee went with me (an avid fan) and even she started getting bored. This is a fun, poorly structured film that won’t capture much of an audience beyond those few horror fans and band groupies that will make their way to the cinema for this type of fare. I was among them, and even if this didn’t check all of the boxes for me (and sort of just flutters out by the time the credits roll) I’ll definitely be back if they’d like to experiment like this again.

Studio 666 is currently in theatres.

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