Studio 666 : Movie Review

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Looking at the career trajectory of the Foo Fighters, it was inevitable that they’d eventually make a movie that would, all at once, showcase their musical chops while putting the band members in a supernatural situation beyond their control. With nods to movies like The Evil DeadAirplane!, and Carrie in their videos, it seems only logical that a movie like Studio 666, an old-school ‘80s Satanic Panic splatterfest, would follow. Be honest: When you heard about a movie where Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, and Rami Jaffee are terrorized by evil spirits while they record an album, you said, “Yeah… makes sense.”

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You don’t go into a movie like Studio 666 to enjoy the acting, even though most performances are natural and apropos; you’re there because you know that they had a blast making it. You’re also here because you love horror movies. And you’re here because you love Dave Grohl. The guy who makes every day fun because he knows he’s on one hell of a ride and he’s going to make the most of every moment by being the best person and artist he can be, lifting whoever’s with him to their apotheoses as well.

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From the cold open (which features Jenna Ortega being stalked, assaulted, and made to crawl in the opening minutes of a movie for the second time in 42 days) to the final frame, Studio 666 is an homage to suffering for your art, even if it means having to dispose of a few wayward band members to achieve glory. No, we’re not talking about firing or “an amicable split” due to “creative differences”; we’re talking about vivisections, bifurcations, and dismemberments of the goriest kind.

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Director B.J. McDonnell allows the band and the actors surrounding them – Jeff Garlin as a record company man breathing down their necks for the next record, Whitney Cummings as a woman next door who might know too much about what’s going on, and others – to dive right into the cheesy mess of it all. This is a movie that was made for fun, to have fun while it was being made, and to give its audiences a fun and appropriately corny and scary time, using the band’s acting limitations to the fullest advantage and letting caution go to the winds. 

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Studio 666 finds the Foo Fighters checking out a house in Encino – away from Los Angeles and all the studios they’ve recorded at – where Grohl is suddenly attracted to the sonic qualities in one particular room. Which, of course, was the room in which we see someone brutally murdered in the aforementioned cold open. And all it takes is a supernatural nighttime visit for Grohl to finally break free of a crippling case of writer’s block that shows him cribbing from his own material and, in one particularly hilarious scene, Lionel Richie’s. But this music he’s been inspired to write may not have the best provenance, which leads to visual gags and gross-outs galore.

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Amid all of this, the rest of the band has to contend with sudden changes in direction and their leader’s personality, which seems to have gone from encouraging and engaging to downright demonic. Smear, Mendel, and Hawkins play to their best Scooby Gang strengths while Jaffee and Shiflett go off on their own tangents, particularly with Jaffee getting to know the next-door neighbor a little better. 

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Band dynamics and humor abound in Studio 666, and if you’ve been there, you’ll know exactly why some material will be funnier to some than others. The onomatopoeic sounds we make when describing drum parts, the interpersonal exchanges we have with some band members when other band members are out of earshot, making fun of the one dude that’s always horny, and trying to get back on track after some kind of traumatic experience… yeah, it’s all in here. 
(Author’s note: My apologies and love to Viv, Chris, Freddy, John, and Ted. We need to watch this movie together… and begin.)

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It’s hard to deride a film that knowingly goes in with the mindset of “whatever happens, it’s going to be fun.” This is exactly how to take Studio 666, a movie made with obvious affection for everyone involved and the genre in which it sits. Grohl and company are expecting you to be in on the joke, which is readily apparent in the “Dune vs. Waterworld” discussion which follows the opening credits. The Foo Fighters just want you to have a good time at the movies, even if the last act tends to droop a bit; honestly, this film paints itself into a corner where the ending might not be the satisfactory triumph you might want. But it honestly doesn’t matter; the Foo Fighters put this together for you to have fun with them. Which, in and of itself, is its most admirable quality.

MPA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, and sexual content.
Running time: 106 minutes.
Released by Open Road Films.

Studio 666

Rating

4.5 Stars

The Foo Fighters put STUDIO 666 together for you to have fun with them. Which, in and of itself, is its most admirable quality.