Film review: ‘STUDIO 666’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

The fiction film featuring the real-life rock band is a dicey venture. On one hand there’s Richard Lester’s 1964 classic A Hard Day’s Night which captured the fun, wit and energy of The Beatles. On the other hand, there’s the 1978 monstrosity KISS and the Attack of the Phantoms, a film so awful the band apparently forbade anyone from mentioning it in their presence.  The Foo Fighters’ ludicrous, ill-advised supernatural horror comedy Studio 666 falls a little closer to the KISS movie even though it offers occasional adolescent amusement for gorehounds.

Under pressure to produce their tenth album the Foo Fighters’ typically money hungry record company executive (Jeff Garlin) offers to let them record at a mysterious abandoned house famed for its rockstar tenants in the 90’s, thinking it will provide inspiration.  Creepy events plague the recording, mysterious apparitions appear from nowhere and Dave Grohl becomes maniacally obsessed with finishing a particular song.  As extremely gory deaths start to befall the band members and pizza deliver guys, it appears an evil presence is at work in the house and a malevolent spirit has taken hold of grunge veteran Dave.

Apparently, the Foo Fighters were actually looking for somewhere new to record their 10th album and moved into the house featured.  Grohl had previously been asked if he wanted to do a horror project and had dismissed the idea but thought the house might provide a novel setting for a low-budget horror tribute film which they could film around recording sessions.

Directed by BJ McDonnell (who’s mostly done Slayer videos) the film pays rather superficial homage to horror classics like The Exorcist and Evil Dead as well as notorious rock folklore about musicians  communing with Beelzebub or living in the homes of notorious satanists and wizards. It might have been more interesting if the film had attempted to satirise the whole ‘demonic rock’ bollocks but it just drops a few references here and there.  The film is really an excuse to depict some ridiculously over-the-top and grizzly deaths including numerous decapitations and disembowellings. The whole thing is so silly that it doesn’t really function as a horror film but is instead like a gorier (and much less witty) Monty Python sketch.

What may be most disappointing for fans is that, despite the occasional raucous jam, there isn’t much sense of the Foo Fighters’ music.  A more serious film just about them making their album would have been better. One disconcerting element is that film refers to a previous tenant of the house, a 90’s rock star who committed suicide.  This unavoidably evokes comparisons with Kurt Cobain but this serious issue is just presented a part of the horror backdrop and not explored with any depth.

As the vain, tyrannical rock star and demonically-possessed, chainsaw-wielding cannibal, Dave Grohl is nothing if not enthusiastic.  His acting, if it can be described as such, is mostly exaggerated facial expressions, self-parody and larking about but he has some of the goofball charm we occasionally find in his music.  The rest of the band deliver their lines in a wooden self-consciously awkward manner but it hardly matters in such a deliberately silly and low-brow film as this.

The film’s schlock horror gimmick wears thin pretty quickly and the last half hour seems to be there just to ensure the film qualifies as feature length.  There are a few vaguely fun moments and Foo Fighters’ hardcore fans will no doubt enjoy spending more time with their idols but this film has very limited appeal as either horror, comedy or music film.

Nick’s rating: **.

Genre: Horror/ comedy.

Classification: R18+.

Director(s): BJ McDonnell.

Release date: 24th Feb 2022.

Running time: 106 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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