Film Review: Studio 666
Director: BJ McDonnell
In Theaters 02.25
When I’m reviewing a film, the question of whether it succeeds at being the movie it’s trying to be is always a crucial one, and a big part of that is knowing your audience. Studio 666, the new horror comedy featuring Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Foo Fighters playing themselves, certainly knows its audience.
Studio 666 finds the band preparing to record their 10th album, and under pressure to deliver something spectacular. Dave Grohl, the frontman, wants to find an epic location to record, and band’s manager, Jeremy Shill (Jeff Garlin, Curb Your Enthusiasm) sends them to cost a mansion in Encino that happens to be a murder house. While Grohl finds himself initially “musically constipated” and unable to come up with anything original, he is overcome by inspiration and begins to work like a man possessed and intent on recording the most mind-blowing rock song ever created. But there is something dark and sinister inside the house and inside Grohl, and before long, the band isn’t just fighting Foo, they are battling supernatural forces that are literally hell bent on destruction.
Director BJ McDonnell (Hatchet III) is very comfortable in the midnight movie horror genre, and he piles on the gore with reckless abandon. In most cases, it’s over-the-top parody gore, and some of it is creative and funny in a sick sort of way, though it eventually went way too far for me. I can handle blood and guts, especially when it’s going for a Hot Fuzz sensibility, but vomit gags (no pun intended) are always where you are going to lose me, and those were surprisingly realistic here.
When it comes to the acting, comedian Whitney Cummings is delightful as the odd next-door neighbor, Samantha, and Will Forte has a nice, extended cameo as a restaurant delivery man intent on getting his demo to Grohl. Jenna Ortega (The Aftermath, the upcoming Wednesday) fares best in a role that I won’t disclose because it gives away too much of the, for lack of a better word, plot. As for the band themselves, make no mistake, they can’t act at all. Grohl is a famously amusing presence, and the section where he’s dealing with songwriter’s block is a hoot, but there does reach a point where his mugging and “look at me, I’m Dave Grohl” antics wear a bit thin. Keyboardist Rami Jaffee gets some solid laughs, as does drummer Taylor Hawkins, but guitarist Pat Smear was like fingernails on a blackboard.
Studio 666 is also a prime example of the difference between length and runtime. Where Drive My Car went for 3 hours and could have gone on longer for my taste, Studio 666 is at least 45 minutes too long at only 106 minutes. It’s a Saturday Night Live sketch drawn out to feature length, and it frankly would have reached a dragging point as just a sketch. But it does have moments where I found myself swept up in the goofy, self indulgent sense of self parody, and I’m only a casual partaker of Foo. Studio 666 is going to play much better to die-hards who can’t get enough of Grohl and company. It’s also a party film that is best seen with like-minded friends.
Studio 666 has all the makings of a cult movie for Foo devotees, as well as those who love schlock horror. Studio 666 isn’t even close to being a good film, but it is a fairly successful one on its low-aiming level. With a built-in, devoted fan base, Studio 666 is almost certain to become an instant cult favorite. – Patrick Gibbs
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