Everyone knows that rock n’ roll is the Devil’s music. Ever since Elvis Presley thrust his hips on the Ed Sullivan Show, puritanical outrage has been directed at rock. There’s a long history of rock and heavy metal in horror. Once upon a time KISS made their own 70s-inspired take on Phantom of the Opera creatively titled, KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park. Both Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy turned up in the odd horror movie. And of course, Rob Zombie has made a career of mixing metal and horror mayhem. So it makes sense that the current flagbearers for rock, the Foo Fighters, would make their very own horror movie, the fairly well-received Studio 666.
It’s their 10th album and The Foo Fighters want it to be something special. But frontman Dave Grohl is struggling to find the right sound. So when their manager suggests an abandoned Encino mansion with a checkered past, Grohl sees it as just ‘outside the box’ enough to kickstart the creative juices. No sooner than the band has arrived and set up their gear, however, and a dark entity haunts Grohl. As the waking evil increases its grasp on Grohl, his obsession with completing his magnus opus puts the band’s lives at risk.
Studio 666 Mostly Nails Its Mix of Horror and Blood-soaked Comedy
Straight out of the gate, Studio 666 hits its concept out of the park. This is is a movie about supernatural evil, rock n’ roll, and the Foo Fighters – no one is walking into this one expect an A24 production. And director B.J. McDonnell (Hatchet III) and writers Jeff Buhler (Pet Sematary, The Prodigy, The Midnight Meat Train) and Rebecca Hughes get it. Expect plenty of over-the-top gore and mostly on-target poking at familiar horror tropes. Will you be surprised when a drum cymbal slices off the top portion of head? No, but it’s damn fun. Besides McDonnell shows off what he learned making Hatchet III with a handful of innovative and gory death scenes. By and large, Studio 666 embodies the rebellious fun that should characterize horror and rock n’ roll.
This is is a movie about supernatural evil, rock n’ roll, and the Foo Fighters – no one is walking into this one expect an A24 production.
Unfortunately, not everything works in Studio 666. And yes, even intentionally silly horror movies need to follow some rules. Comedy and horror are notoriously difficult to mix and achieving just the balance requires a deft hand. While the tone works consistently, some of the jokes are groaners and, in other cases, just fall flat or feel a bit juvenile. And at nearly two hour in length, Studio 666 seriously overestimates its staying power. Buhler and Hughes little twist at the end marks a fun conclusion, but it would have worked with at least 15 minutes of the movie cut out.
Studio 666 Finds The Foo Fighters Having Fun With The Material
Okay, the Foo Fighters aren’t actors – and the Big Me video doesn’t count. As might be expected, the performances here range from a bit stiff to occasionally heavy-handed. And it’s bittersweet seeing the talented Taylor Hawkins on the screen. While none of the band members are likely to pull a Lady Gaga or Ice Cube and make a full swing to acting, they all bring a likable charm to a movie that’s intended to be fun. In particular, Grohl stands out play, well, himself, as he does a good job riffing on the diva rock star image. Hands down, the Foo Fighters are better in Studio 666 than any of KISS from KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park.
While none of the band members are likely to pull a Lady Gaga or Ice Cube and make a full swing to acting, they all bring a likable charm to a movie that’s intended to be fun.
There’s a decent supporting cast backing up the Foo Fighters, so it’s a bit surprising that Studio 666 doesn’t lean on them a bit more. Okay, no one likely wanted to see more of Jeff Garlin these days. Still he’s a talented supporting actor who’s mostly just on hand to bookend the movie. Both Leslie Grossman (American Horror Story) and Jenna Ortega (Scream, X, The Babysitter: Killer Queen) are both on hand for mostly non-speaking cameos, which are still admittedly cool. Arguably, Will Forte has the best cameo as a pizza delivery guy who totally doesn’t want you to listen to his demo. Lionel Richie, Kerry King of Slayer, and yes, John Carpenter all pop up briefly to dial up the fun quotient.
Studio 666 Not a Classic, But An Overall Fun Mix of Horror and Rock N’ Roll
Not surprisingly, Studio 666 is big, dumb, and loud – exactly as intended. No one should go into this one expecting anything different. Dave Grohl et al. deliver on the silly gore, loud music, and occasionally funny scenarios. Oftentimes Studio 666 misses the mark with contrived or overly juvenile humor. Maybe it’s also a bit too long for this sort of movie. It wouldn’t be unfair of accusing Grohl of wanting to have his cake and eat it, too. But there’s just too much fun to be had with this one. While it’s not destined to be considered a horror-comedy classic, The Foo Fighters and horror prove to be a good mix.