DIRECTOR: BJ McDonnell

CAST: Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel, Rami Jaffee, Chris Shiflett, Jenna Ortega, Will Forte, Leslie Grossman, Whitney Cummings, Jeff Garlin, Marti Matulis, Jason Trost

RUNNING TIME: 106 mins

CERTIFICATE: 18

BASICALLY…: The Foo Fighters face off against paranormal demons when they move into a haunted house to record their new album…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

What do the Foo Fighters have in common with the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Aerosmith, Kiss and Tenacious D? Aside from all of them being hugely popular bands, they have also, at one point or another in their careers, starred as themselves in lowly exploitation B-movies designed to capitalise on their massive following. The Beatles perhaps set the precedent for this with both A Hard Day’s Night and Help! (but not Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which, despite what the title suggests, was much more of a vehicle for Peter Frampton, the Bee Gees, Aerosmith, and any other band that wasn’t the Beatles), while others like the legendarily cheesy TV special Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny have achieved cult movie status over the years, and now it’s the turn of Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters with Studio 666, which like the previously mentioned examples is sure to obtain its own following over time, based purely on who it’s starring.

However, while the charm of watching these non-professional actors try to give actual performances certainly enhances the B-movie feel, as does the rather nifty gore sequences, Studio 666 doesn’t quite hold together as even an ironically entertaining horror-comedy.

We open as the Foo Fighters – all of whom are playing themselves – are preparing to record their tenth studio album, but frontman Dave Grohl is keen to bring a different sound to their new record. He and fellow bandmates Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel, Rami Jaffee and Chris Shiflett soon come across a mysterious Encino mansion that is said to be where a band were bumped off mysteriously back in the 90s, and decide that this will be the place to record their album. However, Grohl and his bandmates learn the hard way that the place is haunted by supernatural demons, which very quickly possess the band’s leader and, through an already egotistical host, terrorise the rest of the band to gory ends.

For the most part, Studio 666 knows exactly what kind of movie it is, and does manage to stubbornly stick within its own limitations. It is a horror-comedy where “tongue-in-cheek” doesn’t even cover it, with plenty of hammy dialogue, cheesy effects and some especially over-the-top performances that indicate that nobody is, quite rightfully, taking things too seriously. Of course, Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters aren’t trained actors, and you can certainly tell which of them are more comfortable in front of a camera than others (while Grohl is having a blast chewing scenery left and right, others like Pat Smear are noticeably more wooden and less expressive than their roles desire), but it’s easy to sense that they’re still enjoying themselves despite not having the best grasp on drama. Perhaps to compensate, more professional actors like Will Forte, Jenna Ortega, Whitney Cummings and Jeff Garlin – all popping up in smaller roles – act just as loosely hinged and without a trace of subtlety, again giving it the similar feel of a B-movie from the 70s and 80s that relied far more on gore (of which there are a number of outstanding instances here too; one chainsaw sequence outdoes almost the entirety of Netflix’s recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre in one fell swoop) than anything else for their own thrills.

The thing is, though, there’s only so far that initial charm can carry a viewing experience. You still have to watch a film where story, characters, logic etc all have to add up to make it all worthwhile, and when you really look into it, Studio 666 does come up short. None of the band members outside of Grohl really have anything to do other than look scared and be killed in a number of amusing ways, rendering them thin victims to Grohl’s ego (who, incidentally, came up with the story for this film) as the band leader constantly draws attention away from the rest of the musicians. It’s a thin plot, played mostly straight but with some unnecessary flab; just when things look like they’re finally wrapping up, the film introduces a new plot strand that extends the movie for an extra and unnecessary fifteen minutes, to a point where you really are anxious for them to finally finish the damn thing.

I know that it’s just trying to be a silly, unpretentious exploitation genre flick like the examples listed in the opening paragraph, but for all of its effort Studio 666 doesn’t quite hit all the right notes for it to really earn its inevitable cult movie status.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Studio 666 is a gory and sometimes fun throwback to B-movie genre flicks with plenty of ham and cheese to go around, whether it’s the silly dialogue or over-the-top performances by the Foo Fighters which add to that grimy exploitation tone, but it lacks the characterisation or even the laughs for it to fully earn its wings as a future cult classic.

Studio 666 is now showing in cinemas nationwide – click here to find a screening near you!

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