Review: Studio 666

Directed by BJ McDonnell and written by Dave Grohl, Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes, legendary rock band Foo Fighters move into an Encino mansion steeped in grisly rock and roll history to record their much anticipated 10th album. Also starring: Whitney Cummings, Jeff Garlin, Leslie Grossman, Jenna Ortega and Will Forte.

If you’re going into this film expecting a silly romp that mixes parody and violence, then you’d be exactly right and will probably enjoy it more. However, if you’re searching for a genuine horror, then you’ll likely be disappointed. Studio 666 has a classically male sense of humour, favouring the ridiculous and spoof tone. Initially, it uses a more balanced mix of comedy and horror but the latter falls away quickly in favour of simple, superficial violence. The story itself of a haunted mansion, with a murderous past and a vengeful spirit looking to create the perfect rock album, is actually a good idea but the execution is overly cheesy.

The acting of the Foo Fighters is actually better than expected, the cracks do appear but the fact that it’s not plain awful, gives a lot of points in its favour. Ignoring the overly cheesy tone, they’re a lot of fun to watch, it’s tongue-in-cheek and they clearly get to let loose and act (hopefully) a lot more diva-esque. They have a fairly typical banter, it’s all boilerplate which matches with the story, there just isn’t really anything to provide any surprises. The direction walks along the same path, it’s playing fairly loose and easy-going, leaning into the comedy rather than trying to bring the violence genuinely into its atmosphere.

Our leading rockers are then matched with a gang of misfits, Will Forte’s delivery man wishing he was a rockstar, Whitney Cumming’s flirtatious weirdo neighbour, Leslie Grossman’s deceivingly optimistic estate agent and Jeff Garlin’s ruthless agent. They hit the classic quirky, oddball notes but even the charm of Forte can’t elevate it above anything standard. All of which means that, other than the few whose tastes this will knock right on the head, it struggles to hold your attention. It’s throwing a lot of the same at you, and doesn’t make enough of the supernatural story, to give you something to follow. The way in which it moves makes most of the affair feel like canon fodder, it’s having a lot of fun but can’t quite reach the satisfying violence or supernatural charm of a real horror flick.

Studio 666 ultimately feels like a commercial outing, it falls too heavily on silly, juvenile comedy rather than making the most of its horror origins. It simply doesn’t have anything original or unexpected to add, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect. It’s enjoyable to watch a beloved band have so much fun, pushing slightly outside of the typical comfort zone but it misses out on balancing that with its acting talent. Its opening violence touched upon a larger potential that it sadly failed to reach, it will be enjoyable for fans of the band but for anyone else, it will likely fall short.

Verdict: ✯✯ | 4/10

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