The Demon Inside: On Foo Fighters’ Studio 666

There actually a good film waiting to get out of this lackluster popcorn flick

Dave Grohl in Studio 666 (Image: Roswell Films)

In Studio 666, Dave Grohl wants to kill all the members of his band, Foo Fighters. But there’s a perfectly logical reason why. The devil made him do it, of course.

With Studio 666, Grohl, the renaissance man of his generation, strikes out into new territory. After trying his hand at documentary filmmaking, Foo Fighters’ head dude (as the film’s dialogue would put it) now enters the realm of feature films, snagging a credit for the movie’s storyline (the screenwriting was left to Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes). It wouldn’t be a surprise to find him in the director’s chair on the next outing.

The film’s premise gives the “old dark house” trope a rock ‘n’ roll spin. Needing to complete an album quickly to satisfy the demands of their profit-minded manager, Jeremy Shill, the Foos (capably playing themselves) set up shop at a vintage mansion in Encino (actually the same house where the band recorded last year’s Medicine at Midnight). But little do they know the site’s creepy history; demonic forces wreaked havoc upon the band Dream Widow when they attempted to record their album in the same location back in the free-for-all 1990s. Now the unsuspecting Foos are perfectly placed for history to repeat itself. 

Studio 666 Lobby Card (Image: Roswell Films)

It’s a situation that’s ripe for satire. Unfortunately, Studio 666 is more interested in releasing its inner adolescent. It’s as if all Grohl wanted to do was live out his horror film fantasies, particularly indulging in special effects that become increasingly violent, gory, and just plain disgusting (scenes of projectile vomiting that surpasses even Mr. Creosote’s antics in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life) along the way. The dialogue is equally juvenile, replete with f-bombs and the kind of taunts (“Eat a bag of dicks!”) one might expect from a 12-year-old boy who’s finally escaped his parents’ supervision.

It’s a shame, because there actually a good film waiting to get out of Studio 666, and a smarter script could’ve achieved that. There are occasional subversive moments; my favorite was when a sleeping Grohl, tucked under the covers with his legs spread apart, senses another presence in the room and murmurs, “Taylor, sleep in your own bed.” There are some fun nods to other horror fare; not only does director John Carpenter turn up in a cameo, he also wrote the film’s theme tune, while some of the incidental music has a decided Halloween vibe. 

 

VIDEO: Foo Fighters on Jimmy Kimmel Live

The ending is also surprisingly cynical for the perennially upbeat and optimistic Grohl. It also hints at possible subtext that’s left unexplored. Why does Grohl’s horror film fantasy revolve around slaughtering his bandmates and kicking his manager in the crotch? Is being possessed by a demon really worse than being forced to make music, even though you have no inspiration, because it’s contractually required? Why should the devil have all the good tunes? Instead, Studio 666 prefers to aim for the lowest common denominator.

Oddly, there isn’t much music in the film; only the one demonically-inspired death metal instrumental the band is trying to perfect (and yes, it rocks). But there’s apparently a side project album waiting in the wings, as Foos recorded an entire metal album as the fictional Dream Widow, which is planned for later release.

Studio 666 was never meant to be more than a Grade B offering, but it’s still something of a lost opportunity. Now, if the Foos had made a movie in their Dee Gees persona….

 

VIDEO: Studio 666 Official Trailer

 

 

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Gillian G. Gaar

Seattle-based writer Gillian G. Gaar covers the arts, entertainment, and travel.

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