Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Rami Jaffee, Whitney Cummings, Will Forte, Jeff Garlin, Kerry King, Jenna Ortega, Marti Matulis, Jason Trost, Lionel Richie
Written by: Jeff Buhler, Rebecca Hughes, based on a story by Dave Grohl
Directed by: B.J. McDonnell
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, and sexual content
Running Time: 106
Date: 02/25/2022

Studio 666 (2022)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Alone + Easy Target

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

What this ramshackle rock 'n' roll horror/comedy lacks in skill — it's no Get Out or Babadook — it makes up for with an infectious, rambunctious spirit and an ability to mess around close to the edge.

The Foo Fighters — led by Dave Grohl, and including Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, and Rami Jaffee — prepare to record their tenth album. Dave insists that they record somewhere unique, like "when Zeppelin went to the castle, and there was the devil and the wizards and the dragons and s--t." So the band is sent to an old mansion in Encino, where the 1990s band Dream Widow once disappeared.

Stuck for ideas, Dave explores the house and finds Dream Widow's unfinished work, but when he plays it, something strange happens. He becomes obsessed with recording an ever-lengthening song, growing well past 30 minutes, that seems to have no ending. Worse, though, is that people around them start dying in the most gruesome ways.

Based on a story by Grohl, Studio 666 has a similar attitude to A Hard Day's Night, and — for better or for worse — Spice World, in that it's just here to play some music and have some fun. It takes on its horror elements with the zeal of a kid collecting Fangoria magazines, joining forces with Metallica's Through the Never and Michael Jackson's epic Thriller video. (It even has a new main title theme by John Carpenter!) The maniac, over-the-top gore FX have a squidgy digital look, and the movie holds back in certain aspects — the "sex" and "drugs" part of the "rock 'n' roll" trinity are virtually non-existent here (these guys are all in their fifties and sixties) — but the enthusiasm behind it goes a long way.

What the movie does best is capture a sense of musical creativity, the process of artists coming together and noodling around until something emerges. Unlike the aforementioned movies, Studio 666 actually lacks a collection of polished songs (except an end-credits "Love Dies Young"); we're instead treated to behind-the-scenes extended jams, full of excitement and exploring.

Overall, the band seems comfortable on camera, and even though no Oscars are going to be won here, their humorous camaraderie comes through; the movie has some big laughs. Comic actors like Whitney Cummings, Will Forte, Jeff Garlin turn up to help round things out as well. The movie is probably best viewed on a beat-up VHS tape in the back of a tour bus, but it's recommended any old way you can see it.

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