If there is one thing the new horror-comedy Studio 666 reveals, it is this: just because you have fun making a movie doesn’t mean people will have fun watching it.
Starring former Seattle resident and musician Dave Grohl along with his band the Foo Fighters, all of whom play themselves, the film is a mishmash of half-assed horror cliché combined with attempts at comedic riffing that proves to be a hellish experience in all the wrong ways.
The story, thought up by Grohl, sees the band move into a mansion with a spooooky past to put together a new album. The house is the one they actually did record their most recent album Medicine at Midnight in, though it was to mixed results. In the film, in addition to having a bad case of writer’s block, Grohl is soon haunted by supernatural forces within the house that make him…let’s just say not quite himself.
The film’s runtime is only listed at 108 minutes, though it drags on for so long that it becomes excruciating. Credit must be given to whoever edited together the trailer for the film as it made it seem like fleeting enjoyment could be found with the absurd premise of Grohl getting possessed. There are moments of that in the final cut, though they’re so sparsely seen in what I can only describe as a bloated and bland movie that far overstays its welcome.
The clearest analogy is not to any of the various films Grohl has mentioned as reference points, such as when he somehow told Rolling Stone with a straight face that it’s “part The Shining, part Amityville Horror, part Evil Dead.” Instead, it most closely resembles a commercial for Doritos in both visual presentation and comedic sensibility. In fact, bags of the chip are so frequently seen around the film’s setting that I almost began to wonder if it might surreptitiously be one.
This isn’t to say that Grohl isn’t a personable, funny guy outside of this film. Whatever you think of his music, he seems like the type of dude who would be a chill roommate. Unfortunately for Grohl, it is another thing entirely to be the lead of a film. Giving a strong comedic performance requires timing and cleverness, none of which is to be found anywhere here. Studio 666 gives off the vibe of a bunch of dads going through a midlife crisis.
Recurring appearances by Whitney Cummings as a neighbor who seems to know more than she is letting on and Will Forte as an unsuspecting food delivery guy are part of a doomed attempt to give the movie some comedy bonafides. Forte in particular has shown he can bring a horror-comedy to life with 2019’s underrated ghost film Extra Ordinary. But that prior film has far more creativity and wit than anything in Studio 666.
Even its more basic body horror elements, like when it features an uptick of explosions and vomiting, are so derivative and come far too late to be of any difference. Had the whole film been about those parts, at least it could have been serviceable. Instead, the story drags through such a prolonged set-up that you wish this had been a short film. Or even a commercial. There is no reason for it to be so long.
Perhaps there will be a few who can find value in the novelty of seeing a rock band be in a horror movie. It does feel like the type of thing that would have been made years ago and doesn't really happen anymore. Think of the 2006 film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny which saw Jack Black and Kyle Gass having a grand ol' time carving out cult status with a goofy premise. Funnily enough, Grohl actually appeared in that film as Satan in a humorous final showdown with the two rockers. It's clear in Studio 666 that he didn't learn anything from that experience.
You can see Studio 666 in theaters starting February 25.