Review: ‘Studio 666’ (lacimus dei ebrius)

Surprisingly fun, damnably graphic, and utterly self-aware.

After rocking out for two decades and staring down the barrel of their unfinished tenth album, Foo Fighters front man David Grohl feels the pressure, wanting to do something new and original but finding zero inspiration. After telling their manager (Jeff Garlin) a change of recording venue is a creative necessity to get the album done, he sets the band up in an empty Encino, California mansion… complete with a creepy history, a weird neighbor (Whitney Cummings), and a vanishing gardener (Marti Matulis). Faster than you can say “murder house,” a hidden basement reveals an unfinished music track, possessing Dave to complete the song even at the cost of his immortal soul. Can fellow band members Chris Shiflett, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Rami Jaffee, and Pat Smear break the curse and deliver “Album X” on time?

Fans of music and videos from the Foo Fighters already have a clue what they’re in for: rock, fun, and weirdness. After spending their pandemic time being creative — even putting together a disco cover album as “The Dee Gees” — it turns out they still had enough time to make a horror comedy movie. Sure, they could have created fictional characters for themselves to play, but they instead wrote the screenplay as versions of themselves acting out things they would actually do. Horror fans know comedic elements are as subjective as musical tastes, but the trailer looks and feels like intentional direct-to-video 1980s schlock. Is this the sarcastic supernatural rock n’ roll film viewers might expect from the likes of Grohl and company?

With the band mates playing up fictional versions of themselves, all the fun translates to the screen, including the fact they’re not professional actors. It’s reminiscent of throwbacks like The Monkees or Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, but the real difference here is just how graphic the carnage is, pushing the R-rating to the limit. More than a few scenes reference other genre films, but there’s also artistic issues about pressure, obligations, expanding as musicians, and the temptation to take a short cut where others have done the work. While the most fictional part of the film is any notion the Foo Fighters are creatively bankrupt, the guys go all out to ensure viewers have as much fun watching the film as they did making it… including enough endings to make Stephen King jealous.

There are a couple of clever cameos — sadly not Tenacious D, even though Grohl often plays their “shiny demon” — including an appearance by current scream-queen Jenna Ortega, recently seen in the new Scream movie. Fight sequences looks too much like buddies trying not to hurt each other, but the bloodiest scenes are cheer-worthy. It’s a little of The Fog, a bit of Evil Dead, and a half dozen other bits mixed with metal and buckets of gore. Not as wild as Willy’s Wonderland or as imaginative as Benny Loves You, but its solid enough for a feature-length band video.

There’s a Jackass moment that goes on way too long and feels jarringly out place, but it’s mostly forgivable. Anyone not into of horror comedy or the Foo Fighters isn’t going to have their minds changed by this; this is strictly for the fans. One has to wonder: how many of these films get made just so someone can write off a professionally made severed head to freak out their friends?

Studio 666 is rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, sexual content, raccoon abuse, excessive partying, and far too many bags of Doritos.

Three skull recommendation out of four

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