Still playing in select UK cinemas, and heading to digital shortly, is the comedy-horror, Studio 666. The movie – directed by B. J. McDonnell – is a haunted house picture, which sees US rock band, the Foo Fighters, caught up in a supernatural situation.
In the movie, the Foo Fighters head to an abandoned mansion in Encino, California, where they hope to find a quiet space to compose their tenth album. However, when the band arrive, they find the mansion is rundown and not quite the inviting and inspirational dwelling it could be.
But front man, Dave Grohl is fascinated with the mansion and convinces his fellow bandmates to stay – even convincing them to remain in the building after their technician is electrocuted to death in a supposed accident.
Over the next few days, Grohl tries his hardest to come up with new material for the album, but suffers from writer’s block. That is, until he becomes possessed by a spirit, and suddenly he can hit notes he couldn’t before.
But the spirit is not out to assist Grohl, and instead it takes over his body. Can the rest of the Foo Fighters break their friend free of its possession or is the band doomed to eternal damnation?
I think it’s fair to say that if you have any interest in watching a horror movie starring the Foo Fighters, then chances are you either love horror or are a big fan of the band. And if either of this criteria applies to you, there’s also a good chance you already know what kind of movie Studio 666 will be.
And yes, Studio 666 is exactly what you expect it to be. The movie is a daft romp, filled with blood, guts, and some slightly ropey acting.
Is it bad? No – actually there is much fun to be had with this film and I liked a significant amount of it.
Is it great? Also, no – but this is largely due to the limitations of the script and the fact the movie suffers with pacing issues, most notably in the mid-section of the film.
Had this movie been shorter, I would have less problems with it. As it stands, it is likeable, just somewhat flawed in places.
I’ll deal with the not-so good stuff first, because I don’t want to dwell on it too much – Studio 666 largely works for what it is, and I would much rather praise the good stuff, than focus on the bad. So, with regards to the bad, this really is down to the story and the lengthy running time.
Put simply: Studio 666 has a very basic narrative, yet runs for 106 minutes. This running time is way too long when compared to how little story there is, and as a result, while watching this movie I could feel it losing momentum at various points throughout.
The way to solve this problem was to either edit it a little more, by trimming it back in places, or come up with a deeper story. As neither of these things happened, the film is hampered by these weak links.
The other (slightly) weak link is the fact that Studio 666 has some hit-and-miss acting, with some of it feeling very improvised. However, as this film focuses on a band who are known for their great music, and not their great acting, I’m going to let this slide.
Plus, not everyone is a bad actor – Dave Grohl is pretty good. And even where it becomes apparent that acting is not the band’s forte, they all throw themselves into the dafter elements of the picture, and seem to be having a good time regardless.
Continuing with the more positive aspects of Studio 666, one of the things I quite enjoyed about this movie is the way it comes across as a Scooby-Doo-style adventure – albeit a really dark Scooby-Doo-style adventure with bad language and lashings of blood. OK, so this isn’t a mystery picture, and alas, Scoob doesn’t show up, but it sure has that kind of vibe to it.
Studio 666 also has a touch of the old school horror about it, with various nods to the 1970s and the 1980s. Those who grew up with horror movies from these decades, will feel quite at home with this picture, which wears its influences on its sleeve, and occasionally puts them on the screen.
One of these influences is the work of John Carpenter, which is not only directly referenced via a cameo of the famous director, it can also be heard in the music. Carpenter is one of a number of artists who provides sounds for Studio 666, alongside Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies, Roy Mayorga, and of course, the Foo Fighters themselves.
The music in Studio 666 is superb. All of the musicians involved with the soundtrack bring something to the table, but Carpenter’s involvement is quite apparent. There are parts of the film which feel as if they are bordering on his back catalogue.
In terms of the horror, the film doesn’t hold back and if you like guts and gore, there is plenty on offer here. Some of the death sequences are over the top and utterly ridiculous, but this is exactly the tone this movie is aiming for.
Studio 666 also manages to pull in a few laughs, often at the expense of Foo Fighters keyboardist, Rami Jaffee. However, Rami is clearly laughing with the audience, and he provides the film with some smile-inducing moments.
All-in-all, Studio 666 is very dumb and is rough around the edges, but it is a lot of fun. It is the kind of movie that is best enjoyed with a beer, and the general understanding that you’re not about to watch an Academy Award-nominated picture, but rather a film in which the Foo Fighters dick around in a haunted house.
Why this film has been released at this time of the year is beyond me, because this feels very much like something you would watch at Halloween. In fact, I think Studio 666 will certainly play much better around the spooky season, so keep this in mind if you’re not quite ready to watch it yet.
However, if you are ready to dive in, take it for what it is and don’t expect anything more. If you can overlook the pacing problems, there is much to enjoy here.