Photo Credit: Studio 666 / Open Road Films
Supernatural horror movies are all about strange and unexplained phenomena, but in the case of the current theatrical release Studio 666, the strange and unexplained start before the film does. First of all, the movie features the band Foo Fighters, and not a brief cameo playing on stage in some random bar scene: Dave Grohl and the other five members of the band are the main actors (playing themselves). We also think it’s pretty unheard-of for a band’s first-ever feature-length scripted vehicle to come along only after twenty-seven years, with the members all in their fifties. However, the strangest thing of all is that there’s no soundtrack to Studio 666, and there is hardly any music in the movie from the band at all, except for “Love Dies Young” from their year-old album Medicine at Midnight (which plays over the closing credits). So this movie, which stars the Foo Fighters, has no more Foo Fighters music in it than Me, Myself & Irene and the first Thor did.
Now about the movie itself: after a brief scene depicting a brutal, as-yet-unexplained murder, Studio 666 “introduces” the Foo Fighters, who are having trouble writing and recording their “tenth album” (the movie doesn’t even try to pretend the Foos are a new band). Thinking a change of environment might help, they rent a house with a recording studio. Naturally, it’s the same house where the earlier murder took place, but the band doesn’t know that yet. So, yes, it’s your basic haunted house set-up. But apart from starring a real-life rock band, the film is also distinguished by the fact that it’s a comedy. No, we don’t mean just the usual scattered chuckles: much of Studio 666 (particularly the first half) is laugh-out-loud funny, thanks in no small part to the casting of comedic actors such as Will Forte and Whitney Cummings (there’s also a hilarious cameo by an ’80s pop icon playing themselves, which we wouldn’t dream of spoiling).
On the subject of cameos, there’s a brief (but very welcome) appearance from John Carpenter, the filmmaker who once re-invented the horror genre with the original 1978 Halloween (his other contribution here is – interestingly enough – the movie’s score). A couple of other notable filmmakers are there at least in spirit: much of the horror style of the movie is probably a bit closer to the early work of Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) and while listening to a lot of dialogue it’s hard not to think about the hybrid bro/nerd-speak which defined the movies of Kevin Smith.
Though much of the tone of the entire movie is decidedly tongue-in-cheek, that tongue and cheek would most likely be found in a head that’s been decapitated. Though a comedy, Studio 666 is no Scooby-Doo crossover or SNL David Pumpkins skit: the graphic violence is quite extreme, possibly even for a horror movie. This would also seem a bit out-of-character, as the Foo Fighters have always been relatively family-friendly (Grohl appeared in the 2011 Muppets reboot and contributed to a book written by his mother). Many of the band’s fans might simply not like horror movies – and vice-versa – which might explain why Studio 666 is already a commercial failure (during its opening weekend it debuted on the box office charts – eerily enough – at number six).
Still, Studio 666 was probably destined to become a cult movie before the script was even written. A solid – if relatively conventional – horror movie, it might have worked about as well with a half-dozen random actors playing a fictional band. However, all six Foo Fighters are surprisingly at ease in front of the camera, including – or especially – Grohl (lingering allegations that he’s overexposed have almost always been neutralized by his appearing to not take himself too seriously, and that doesn’t change here). No one’s going to mistake this movie for the Foo’s A Hard Day’s Night or Purple Rain, but by the same token it won’t end up as their Magical Mystery Tour or Under the Cherry Moon. At the very least, the movie shows just how much the Foo Fighters are willing to think outside the roadcase, and Studio 666 should ultimately come to be regarded a bit higher than being merely this generation’s Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.