If you racked your brains thinking of bands, or artists more generally, to branch into the B-movie horror genre, the chances are Foo Fighters wouldn’t have crossed your mind. Dave Grohl’s post-Nirvana project are more recognised within the annals of dad-rock than the death metal territory of bands like Slayer, so the release of Studio 666 certainly caught many off-guard. Announced just weeks before its release after filming secretly during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s a schlocky but endearing horror-comedy, that has just enough meat on the bone to satiate those not invested in the band.
In a plot spearheaded by Grohl himself (supposedly coming to him in a dream), the Foos are suffering with writer’s block going into their tenth album. The solution? Lock themselves away in a decrepit villa with a hidden satanic past. All seems well and good to start with, until Grohl himself begins exhibiting some odd behaviour – and that’s when members of the band start dying in increasingly gruesome ways.
It’s a story that won’t win any awards for its originality or execution, but Studio 666 must be praised for never claiming to be more intelligent or resourceful than it is. Details on its budget aren’t public, but you can imagine that was done pretty cheaply, more as a passion project for Grohl and a promotional push for a band that’s still kicking on ten albums deep. It does at times feel a bit like massaging Grohl’s ego, as he takes centre stage: constantly quipping, having far more lines of dialogue than any other band members, and ultimately becoming the crux of the film’s demonic story. It’s no surprise given he’s the biggest star in the band, but you can’t help but feel that Grohl’s creative input was the only one really considered.
While that may not be too much of a problem for diehard Foo Fighters fans, who know their Pat from their Taylor, to newcomers it can feel a little grating. My audience was constantly cackling at the back-and-forth between band members, usually comprising of little more than juvenile insults, but as someone not familiar with the band, it didn’t really land. Studio 666 is certainly a film that you’ll get most out of if you like the band, as you’ll already have an attachment to these ‘characters’. The script from Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes assumes you already know all of these people and their music, so newcomers can certainly feel left behind.
But even if, like me, you aren’t into their music, the zany horror fun at the core of Studio 666 is enough to ensure a fun ride. There’s gallons of fake blood and some really gruesome kills that earn the film its 18 rating, and no holds are barred in terms of how explicit director B.J. McDonnell is willing to go. It’s the sort of schlocky B-movie that rarely gets a theatrical release these days, and it’s refreshing to see a film of this ilk land on the big-screen rather than going straight to streaming. Horror fans will glean enough from the gruesome kills and Evil Dead-inspired plot to still have a good time, and that’s where I got most of my enjoyment.
Overall then, Studio 666 is a mixed bag: a silly, zany horror that leans into its reduced budget and straight-to-DVD roots, but also a somewhat inaccessible tribute to the Foo Fighters that’ll be lost on anyone not familiar with the band. It’s still worth watching for the over-the-top kills and wacky occult themes, but some of the humour and characterisation is undeniably lost on those who don’t know their Everlong from their Learn to Fly.