STUDIO 666 (REVIEW)
Dir. BJ McDonnell
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
When the Foo Fighters run dry for inspiration of their 10th album, record producer Jeff Garlin and his associate Leslie Grossman recommend a house in Encino that saw a band get brutally killed in the 90s. Not long after arriving, the group find things aren't what they appear to be an the strains of making their album takes their toll on the band.
STUDIO 666 is everything you would expect from a band centric movie but pulls no punches in delivering what it sets out to do. The dialogue is cheesy, the acting of the band is questionable (but passable - Grohl being the only actor within the band here) and the blood is voluminous. While I personally think the film should have been released in the mid 00s with the likes of THE PICK OF DESTINY (of which also became the devil) the audience appreciated the stoner humour and it was great to see a relatively big audience for such a generally small scale film at the cinema. The best thing about Studio 666 is that it finds the balance right between humour and horror as the demons and horror genuinely hit a nerve and brings more horrifying sights than most mainstream releases.
While BJ McDonnell is not my hero, he manages to run with the premise. As far as death goes, the sky is a neighbourhood with blood at the levels of Alvarez' EVIL DEAD. At times it can feel everlong as the band set up the wheels but once it learns to fly, it really does become something from nothing. Times like these need a little more fun, and all my life I've enjoyed campy horror to which this certainly makes its way not as the pretender but as a real standout for musical horror. BJ, this is the best of you and while there are a bunch of stacked actors, the supporting cast really help rope in the band, especially Jeff Marlin and Leslie Grossman but also a fantastic cameo for the producers and roadies. These days, cinema is either big budget action or soul destroying realism, here there is no shame, shame but as I should have known, is fun horror film that doesn't break boundaries but sure as hell hits you like a monkey wrench.
The film's roots in horror are laid out as THE EVIL DEAD meets DEATHGASM with a little bit of THE FOG thrown in for good measure. It makes the most of its 18 rating, a brave choice for a film marketed at music fans, but it works in the films favour as it balances on a knife edge of humour and horror. A pulsing soundtrack of heavy metal and horror synths and it's no surprise that John Carpenter (all hail) provides the opening theme and a little added bonus in the main film as well as cameos from Jerry King and SCREAM 's Jenna Ortega (who herself played a homage to Carpenter in the movie).
If you don't like Grohl and the band then this probably won't win over many new fans primarily because of the earlier tone of humour they carried with their music videos for Everlong and Learn to Fly is carried over hear but their audience are known and the band aren't about to change for mainstream (even more) success. The Song Remains The Same or Tommy this ain't but at least it's always entertaining, even in some of the earlier slower moments.
If you're a fan of the Foo Fighters and a sucker for practical effects and gory horror, then this is a solid gold hit.