Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 7, 2022)
Though popular musical artists make the leap to movies all the time, the era in which bands acted in fictional features appeared to die decades ago. Although the Beatles popularized that notion via films like A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, I can’t recall the last time an actual band worked in a narrative, not a documentary – maybe Prince and the Revolution for 1984’s Purple Rain?
Whatever the case, 2022 brought a new entry in this genre. Foo Fighters came to the big screen via a mix of horror and comedy called Studio 666.
In 1993, a mansion in Encino, California becomes the location of a series of brutal murders. These give the home a ghastly reputation.
Nonetheless, when Foo Fighters decide to record their new album, leader Dave Grohl (Dave Grohl) decides to do so in this location. As the band gets used to the building, Dave finds himself dominated by supernatural forces that may lead to additional bloody mayhem.
By “may”, one should read “will”, as 666 offers no pretenses about what it intends to deliver. The film opts for graphic violence, albeit gore tempered by comedy.
A cast dominated by rock musicians means we lean toward amateurs, so 666 balances the roster with some veterans. We find pros like Whitney Cummings, Jeff Garlin, Will Forte and Jimmi Simpson to add some experience to the table.
Nonetheless, Grohl and his bandmates dominate the film, and that means acting that leans toward the weak side of spotty. Actually, Grohl manages to acquit himself reasonably well.
No one will mistake Dave for a great actor, but his natural wit and charm come through pretty well – at least when he essentially plays himself. As the supernatural elements manifest and Grohl must expand his range, he falters somewhat, but he nonetheless fares best of the various Foos.
As for the others, well… they seem to try their best. They vary from wooden to overly broad, without much in between those poles.
666 exists as Grohl’s pet vehicle, though, so the other Foos don’t get a ton of play anyway. This means their skills – or lack thereof – matter less than one might anticipate.
I like the Foos and Grohl. We actually grew up a couple miles from each other, and I like that a local boy made good.
But hoo boy, does 666 smell of self-indulgence. It feels like Grohl decided that after 30 years of stardom as a musician, he needed to expand his résumé into movies… just because.
Granted, the focus on a rock band at work gives 666 a different flavor in terms of characters. However, it doesn’t manage to do anything much with those possibilities.
This means that in terms of functionality, 666 exists as a pretty standard slasher film. One person stalks the rest and creates gory havoc – game, set, match.
Again, the involvement of a band adds a little twist, and the tendency toward comedy means that 666 avoids strict genre domains. Nonetheless, it fails to find much to make it especially compelling.
666 suffers from a slow pace, a factor I suspect comes from the sketchiness of the “plot”. 666 doesn’t really push beyond “horror movie with a rock band” in terms of its narrative, so the filmmakers struggle to fill its 107 minutes with actual content.
That aforementioned sense of self-indulgence likely impacts the movie’s running time as well. There’s no reason 666 couldn’t – and shouldn’t – go for more like 85 to 90 minutes, a length more logical for a tale like this.
Grohl seems unable to understand what the film actually needs, though, so we end up with scenes that run far too long. The whole package becomes tedious because the lack of inventiveness turns more obvious.
I can’t find much to like from 666. While I could imagine a crummier version of this movie and some charm occasionally emerges, the end result remains largely uncompelling.