Studio 666 Review - Dave Grohl Rocks a Demonic Riff with the Devil Straight to Hell
Brant Lewis describes Studio 666 as a rockin' good time that mixes rock ‘n’ roll with Sam Raimi's horror-comedy chops.
Within popular culture, rock ‘n’ roll and the occult became intertwined following the genre's introduction in the 1950s-1960s along with the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Since then, the description of rock as the devil's music has lost some steam and thus rock has lost some of its edge. Filmed in secret during the pandemic, Studio 666 (2022) understands that part of the genre's legacy and the Foo Fighters have a ball playing around in the horror sandbox with gory and fun results. The film is also filled with iconic horror film easter eggs.
After 25-years, Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters experience a creative slump while working on their tenth album for their overbearing manager Jeremy Shill (Jeff Garlin). While touring a spooky Encino mansion where the band Dream Widow was brutally murdered in the 90s, Grohl convinces the band that the house will be perfect to record their tenth album. However, Grohl becomes possessed after listening to Dream Widows' final track. This leads Grohl to coax the band into recording the demonic song themselves as he kills them off one by one. With the release of the film, Grohl also released a Metal EP as the fictional band self-titled Dream Widow.
A film starring the Foo Fighters could easily be a cash cow. It was projected to gross $2–5 million on opening weekend, but didn’t hit its mark. Based on a story by Dave Grohl, Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes co-wrote the film with BJ McDonnell directing. I saw it in an empty theater and had a great time, but a larger crowd would have enhanced the experience. It's one of the most fun horror films I’ve seen in a while and it made me happy that the entire band and crew were in on it.
Outside of being a talented musician, Dave Grohl has some serious comedy chops that play well with the film's tone. After all, he did play Satan in Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (2006) and Animool in The Muppets (2011). Grohl effectively switches between the heightened tortured artist and demonic as the possession takes hold. I was on the edge of my seat during some moments.
The other members of the band, while not actors, are great additions to the film as well. The late Taylor Hawkins, who sadly passed away last Friday, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, and Rami Jaffee also play fictional versions of themselves. Due to their real-world history, they all have a natural chemistry on-screen. While some aspects of their characteristics and relationships are heightened, you can see why the band is still making music together. It’s also apparent that the film's humor reflects the band's tastes.
The film also stars Whitney Cummins as next-door neighbor Samantha, Lesslie Grossman (American Horror Story) as realtor Barb Weems and Jenna Ortega as Skye Willow, one of the members of Dream Widow. Despite not having many lines, Ortega cements her presence in the horror genre with an opening screen that slightly mirrors Scream (2022). Yet, my favorite character has to be Darren Sandlebaum, the restaurant delivery guy played by Will Forte. Forte has a knack for one-off weird characters and he was a welcome delight in the role.
The kills in Studio 666 are gnarly and fun. The film has a Sam Raimi feel to it. The kills are bloody and over the top. Yes, they're horrific, but most of the time, they are so outrageous that you can only laugh at the excessive gore. One kill scene featured one of the best chainsaw kills I’ve seen in a while and left me with a massive smile on my face. They went for comedic kills instead of realism and it works.
Legendary horror director and composer John Carpenter, who also makes a cameo in the film, his son and fellow composer Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies created the otherworldly and hellish cursed song for the film. In addition, heavy metal drummer Roy Mayorga scored the movie. The score felt unique and suited the film perfectly due to its hard rock and metal influences.
Despite this, I wish the film was a bit shorter. The first act of the film stretches a bit too long. I didn’t mind the opening due to the band’s chemistry. The film really feels like you’re hanging out with the band. The length, however, could turn some people off. Having some knowledge of the Foo Fighters and their history beforehand helps. The film’s pacing also struggles a bit at times.
Overall, I enjoyed Studio 666. It exceeded my expectations. As a fan of horror and rock ‘n’ roll, I was in heaven during my viewing. It might not appeal to everyone, but I can see it achieving a similar cult status to other horror films and being a movie night staple. The film feels like the next evolution for Grohl and The Foo Fighters. Instead of being a simple vanity project, you clearly see everyone's passion for the “satanic period” of rock. To quote the band Rainbow, "Long live rock'n'roll."
Studio 666 released exclusively in theaters on February 25, 2022, but is now available for rental while in theaters through AppleTv, Amazon Prime Video and Vudu.