Gory, hilarious, and insanely fun, “Studio 666” is everything you hope it will be — and everything you never knew you desperately needed.
Do I really need to write an in-depth review of a horror-comedy-band film created by and starring Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters for you know it’s the must-see masterpiece of the 21st century? Alright, if you insist.
A well-kept secret for two years, Foo Fighters fans first became aware of Studio 666, the band’s debut feature film, back in November of 2021, just a few months prior to the film’s theatrical release on February 25, 2022. Every band member (Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, and Rami Jaffee) has a featuring role in the film, alongside a cast of talented actors and comedians, including Whitney Cummings, Leslie Grossman, Will Forte, Jeff Garlin, and Jenna Ortega (on the heels of her star turn in this year’s Scream).
The score was composed by Roy Mayorga (drummer for Ministry), with a theme song composed by none other than the legendary John Carpenter — who also makes a memorable cameo. Other notable cameos include Slayer’s Kerry King and the legendary Lionel Richie, whose brief appearance is side-splittingly funny.
Directed by BJ McConnell and based on a story by Grohl, with a screenplay from Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes, the supernatural horror-comedy follows the band as it moves into an Encino property to record their 10th album (released in the real world as Medicine at Midnight, which was actually recorded at the Encino house).
Unfortunately for the band, the house is “steeped in grisly rock ‘n’ roll history”, and they soon find themselves overwhelmed by supernatural forces that threaten not only the album but their very lives.
We begin with a flashback to Encino 1993, which teases the property’s dark and brutal history.
It’s a fantastically scary and stylish opening that reassures genre fans, right from the jump, that Studio 666 intends to respect its audience.
There’s no shortage of hijinks, but at the heart of the film is pure and unbridled love of horror.
When we transition to present-day Encino, we meet the band discussing their next album at a production company meeting. Record label executive Jeremy Shill (Jeff Garlin) is fuming because of the band’s tardiness in delivering another hitmaker.
Right out of the gate, the dialogue sizzles, and I had a smile stretched from ear-to-ear that never faded.
As the 12-time Grammy-winning band bemoans their current lack of inspiration, they demand to record at a cool place, like when Zeppelin went to a castle with wizards and dragons. When they arrive at the property real estate agent Barb (Leslie Grossman) promises is “to die for”, Dave immediately senses its potential and gleefully asks his bandmates if they notice the “overwhelming sense of death or doom” or, he wonders aloud, “is that just me?”
It turns out, Shill may have delivered a great house with awesome acoustics, but he’s neglected to mention it also happens to the site of a massacre in 1993 that resulted in the deaths of the band “Dream Widow” (headed by Jenna Ortega, whose gruesome demise we witness in the opening scene).
As Dave wrestles with writer’s block, the discovery of a creepy Necronomicon Ex-Mortis-inspired book and a sinister audio recording in the home’s basement delivers a demonic muse that fuels his quest to complete the perfect song — no matter what the cost.
For a brief period at the start of the film, I thought, “Well, ok, Dave and his bandmates are definitely not actors.” Not that I minded much. The awkward line delivery only added to the film’s charm, and I was fully prepared for and perfectly ok with a campy, “so bad it’s good” rock ‘n’ roll romp.
However, as the film progressed, I realized I had fallen victim to an intentional bit of misdirection.
Not only are the performances serviceable, but they are spectacularly good — leveling up considerably as we transition from the ‘real world’ into the world of the supernatural.
When the shit really hits the fan, it’s an absolute delight, with every one of the Fighters firing on all cylinders.
Especially endearing is keyboardist Rami Jaffee, who capitalizes on his aura of laid-back California cool and his status as the Foo’s good luck charm by playing a hippy rock god with a freewheeling philosophy and a strong libido. When the band’s roadie is tragically electrocuted while setting up equipment in the home, he suggests they all just mediate — to which Dave exclaims, “Fuck meditating in the ass, Rami.”
Rami has immediate chemistry with the band’s new neighbor, Samantha (Whitney Cummings), a sexy groupie who we soon learn knows more about the home’s horrific history than she first lets on.
Will Forte appears as a food delivery guy who confesses that the Foo Fighters are his second-favorite band…after Coldplay.
There’s an affable and appealing goofiness to the film which echoes the quirky style of Foo Fighters videos, and each of the band members’ distinct personalities shines through. The chemistry between them is electric, and there are more endlessly quotable lines than a Tarantino joint. According to the press notes, the band was encouraged to improvise as much as possible and just be themselves.
And, by the rock gods, does it ever work.
As funny as the film is — and it is wildly funny — the horror is always front and center.
In the press notes, director BJ McDonnell (Hatchet 3) makes it clear that both he and the Foos are hardcore horror fans, which is evident by the film’s many easter eggs and references to genre classics like The Fog, Evil Dead, Trick or Treat, and The Burning.
Of course, there’s also a bounty of sickeningly satisfying blood, gore, and inventive, over-the-top kills — including a notable scene McDonell describes as “the bloodiest thing I’ve ever seen on a set.
Inspired by slasher staples like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, McDonnell says the goal was “laugh-out-loud gore”. Like any great slasher film, Studio 666 knows how to continually ramp up the insanity of the kills and keep fans chomping at the bit for the next bout of bloodletting.
With an impressive visual style and stellar old-school practical effects, Studio 666 goes balls to the wall and never lets up, culminating in a gloriously gory finale that’s the absolute perfect cherry on this sinfully good sundae.
It also must be said that a demonically possessed Dave Grohl is just about the greatest thing I’ve ever seen put to celluloid.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention perhaps the film’s biggest selling point: the killer music.
It probably goes without saying, but music plays a prominent role in the film, and it’s every bit as badass as you’d expect. In one scene, we’re treated to a jam session in the living room, and my heart exploded.
If you have even a passing affection for Foo Fighters (if you don’t, now is the time to re-evaluate your life choices), it’s nigh impossible for you not to love this film. Stripped of its humor and horror, it remains an irresistible band movie.
And if you really and truly love Foo Fighters, I submit you may walk away from Studio 666 loving them just a little bit more.
This isn’t the first time the band has showcased its comedic acting chops, as they’ve certainly made their share of creative and playfully humorous music videos — like the videos for Walk, a near re-creation of the 1993 film Falling Down, the ‘80s home video homage White Limo, Long Road to Ruin, the iconic Learn to Fly, and their recent Love Dies Young, in which their faces are on female synchronized swimmers.
In fact, McDonnell first met Foo Fighters when he worked on the memorable video of their Grammy-winning song Run, in which the Foos portrayed rampaging old men.So, while at first the idea of a feature-length film from Foo Fighters seemed like a strange but fascinating fever dream, I’m honestly left wondering what the hell took them so long. Click To Tweet
And now that this dream is a reality, the world is a better place for it. I only hope we get an encore performance sometime very soon.