‘Studio 666’ Review: Foo Fighting the Devil
It isn’t always enough for a lousy horror comedy to splash around in its lousiness. But I’d like to thank the people who made “Studio 666.” They’ve splashed me — with the blood of food-delivery guys and the viscera of Chris Shiflett, the chief guitarist of Foo Fighters until he meets his end here, and with the wink-wink nastiness that lightens all of the excess. (This thing is too long and cover-your-eyes gory.)
The cheeky, punny humor of that title is something for the filmmakers to live up to. Ditto for Foo Fighters. The sextet plays itself, holed up at a fetching Southern California chateau to record some overdue music when resident evil takes over the band’s leader, Dave Grohl. No one tries for anything mightier than put-on dumbness because that’s the outer limit of where the acting, writing (by Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes) and directing (by BJ McDonnell) can take this premise
It’s fun, nonetheless, to catalog everybody’s imperviousness to embarrassment. The rhythm guitarist Pat Smear’s entire performance — again, as himself; wonderfully flip yet warmly blasé — is a deluxe snarl. The keyboardist Rami Jaffee leans into New-Age-y randiness; and Taylor Hawkins, the drummer, is a natural, both behind his kit and impaled to a wall. And when Grohl’s satanic possession sends him on a rock-star power trip, the rest of the band endures tirades, bullying and potential ritual sacrifice.
The movie exudes real “Scooby-Doo”-meets-“The Shining” vibes that rope in Korean horror and extend to Grohl, who gives, if not his all, then at least his most charismatic “some.” He knows what to do with his eyes, when to narrow, roll and pop them. That might not seem like much — he’s just as watchable in videos for “Everlong” and “Learn to Fly,” which are far more imaginative and much shorter than this movie. But in a film starring so many people who can’t act, a good set of eyes is an indication of effort, of life. And Grohl is expending something here, blurring the line between demonic possession and prima donna.
His satanic tantrums are about the music, man. And what the devil makes him do culminates in an epic song that sounds, in one section, like the bridge on “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age, and, in another, like “Master of Puppets”-era Metallica. But the music is evidently beside the point, too. “Studio 666” is seriously overcommitted to grossing us out. Pat Smear is the name of an excellent musician. Here, it’s also a verb.
Rated R for F-bombs, chain saws, a cymbal as a power tool. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes. In theaters.