Most bands, struggling for inspiration in the studio, have fantasised about decapitating each other with a cymbal once in a while, but Foo Fighters clearly have enough disposable cash to make such dreams a cinematic reality. Following Dave Grohl‘s previous forays into documentary making (Sound City in 2013, Sonic Highways in 2014 and last year’s van-centric What Drives Us), he’s now unleashing his inner Rob Zombie with a gore-drenched, gross-out splatter comedy. Starring himself and his bandmates, Studio 666 is seemingly intended to carve himself a new reputation as the nicest psychopath in rock.
The premise is pure grindhouse. Lacking any songs for their ‘difficult’ 10th album, the Foos hole up in a deserted LA mansion full of red-eyed ghouls, sacrificial raccoons and murderous gardeners. As they set about finishing the devil’s best song – all 40 hair-flailing minutes of it, in the key of “L-sharp” – Dave manages to snort up a succubus and goes on a slasher rampage that sees his bandmates gruesomely offed one by one between takes. Elevator pitch: Michael Myers goes grunge.
Basically, it’s A Hard Day’s Night Of The Demons. The movie, from Grohl’s story, was filmed in the same house where the Foos recorded last year’s ‘Medicine at Midnight’ album. And, as with all such time-killing rock star vanity projects, its success depends entirely on the abilities of the writ-in-stone cast to convince on screen. Most bands might make Citizen Kanes in the studio or La La Lands onstage, but point a film camera at them and you get, well, Spice World.
Luckily, the Foo Fighters are naturals. Comfortable, confident and characterful, they play to individual strengths that illuminate personalities too often hidden behind their scene-stealing frontman. Pat Smear makes for a classic comedic bumbler, shameless in his product placement. Keyboardist Rami Jaffee plays the band horndog with theatrical relish, right up to a demise that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘doing the nasty’. Bassist Nate Mendel, it turns out, has serious acting chops, and Dave’s own screen charisma is apparent. Even when overacting like a panto possession or taking a satanist’s foot to the nuts in the final reel, he’s eminently watchable, always just the right side of schlock-horror cheese.
The script is kinda smart too, not just going for easy spoof laughs with winking comic references to Day Of The Dead, Evil Dead and The Exorcist – and one genius cameo from Lionel Richie – but also fully grasping the depths and twists that make low-budget splatter horrors so much fun. The electricity effects are way too cheap, but otherwise Studio 666 would sweep up the Palm D’Gore at any horror flick festival with an ounce of rock ’n’ roll in its fiend-infested soul.
- Director: BJ McDonnell
- Starring: Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Lionel Richie
- Release date: February 25