Re:Visiting – Studio 666 (2022)

A film that came somewhat out of the blue when announced last year, was the Foo Fighters produced Studio 666. A raucous blend of Horror, Comedy and Music that would see the band star in their own film, following in the path of other acts that have crossed over onto the silver screen, such as The Beatles and The Who. Although no-one has ever quite done it like this before. Directed by music video creator, BJ McDonnell, Studio 666 sees Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Rami Jaffee and Chris Shiflett holed up in a haunted mansion to write and record the tenth Foo Fighters album. Possibly inspired in part by the rumoured haunted recording studio that acclaimed producer Rick Rubin (Slipknot / Red Hot Chilli Peppers) owns in the Laurel Canyon area of LA. The movie opens with a pre-credits flashback scene in the midst of a blood bath, as we see an unknown female get brutally murdered by a faceless man with a hammer, in the music room of the mansion.

This sets the scene and as the opening credits roll, we are treated to a score from none other than John Carpenter (Halloween), the master of horror himself, providing some old school horror credibility to the heart of the movie. The band head to the mansion to start working, with Carpenter’s score providing perfectly executed moments of tension as they approach the house. Dave instantly feel an overriding sense of ‘death and doom’ within the four walls, and as they move their equipment into the house, we see a cameo from Slayer’s Kerry King playing a roadie. Dave suggests they all live in the house for a month to get the record done which the band reluctantly agree to. Then Kerry King gets fried alive as he tries to wire in the mixing desk, in a comically gruesome scene. The band debate whether they should leave, but Dave believes staying is what their roadie would have wanted! His burned head then appears in Dave’s BBQ in the next scene, totally freaking him out. In these early scenes the movie is clearly going for a fast pace with no let up between scenes of horror and attempted jump scares, all delivered with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

As Dave gets to work showing the guys riffs he’s been working on, it seems he has writers block, as all he comes up with is retreads of his already written hits. That night he is visited by the phantom of Kerry King who tells Dave that ‘they are watching!’ He is then overcome by apparitions who disembowel him in a disturbingly comic dream sequence. Next Dave resorts to watching ‘how to write riffs’ videos on You Tube, but becomes distracted by noises around him. He follows the sounds and ends up in the cellar of the property where he stumbles across the master tapes from the first band who tried to record in the house, Dream Widow. He listens to the music and is totally blown away. The recording then starts running backwards eminating a demonic voice, and the room becomes alive with the voice snarling at Dave to ‘finish it!’ The next morning and Dave is holding court playing Dream Widow’s riff to the rest of the guys who are suitably impressed, he launches into a virtuoso guitar solo (played by the hands of Steve Vai) with the rest of the band looking on in amazement, as they’ve ever heard him play like this before.

Dave explains the root note of the song is in L Sharp, a new note that has invented, in a humorous Spinal Tap – esq moment. The film jumps forward three weeks and the guys are all grooving together on the Dream Widow riff, which sounds great. But Dave is clearly becoming possessed. He snaps like a rabid dog when guitarist Pat Smear announces he wants to go to bed and pick things back up the next morning. He apologises the next day and rouses them back on board with his vision for the song in a hilarious scene, where he is enthusiastically humming all the parts of the tune, and how he wants it to sound. The film cuts to the guys recording and playing their hearts out, while John Carpenter himself sits at the control desk engineering the session.

Next we see the violent decpaitation of their food delivery guy by a mysterious faceless phantom, while Dave then freaks his band out by eating his steak raw. ‘It’s so fucking juicy!’ he proclaims with blood dribbling down his chin. On their final day of recording, Dave can’t quite nail the ending of their now 44 min song, and guitarist Chris Shiflett walks out of the session. He is then gruesomely murdered, slammed face first into a BBQ before taking multiple knife wounds to his back. The camera pans out to the killer and it’s Dave! They find the disembowled and beheaded body of the delivery guy from earlier, and again Dave convinces them all to stay and finish the song, ‘It’s what he would have wanted!’ Dave confiscates everyone phones and the van keys proclaiming ‘no one leaves until this song is finished’.

After their next session the guys try to leave while Dave is feeding on a raw carcass. They speak to the neighbour, Samantha (Whitney Cummings) who tells them the story of Dream Widow and the possession of their singer who had become obsessed with creating the same song Dave is also obsessed with. She advises that there is a book which has been used to open a portal in which a demon has been summoned. In the next scene we see Samantha and keyboard player Rami Jafee making love, Dave is hidden under the bed and he takes a chainsaw right down the middle of both of them, in a scene which is both over the top gruesome, and hilarious at the same time.

Nate Mendel and Pat Smear search the basement for the book that holds the key to the demon that has possessed Dave. They are attacked by red faced phantoms and forced to flee the basement. While Dave and Taylor work on getting the ending of the song right starting with Taylor’s drums. After Taylor nails his part, Dave dispatches him by by frisbying a cymbal at him, splitting his face in half. Meanwhile Nate and Pat read from the book to try and rid Dave of his possession. At this stage Dave has transformed into a part Evil Dead, part From Dusk Till Dawn style demon. They manage to rid Dave of his possession before phantoms of the Widow Dream band appear, banishing the exorcised demon and destroying the book before all disappearing. Seemingly a happy ending, Nate and Pat attempt to hot wire the van so they can leave, but both meet final grizzly ends in the process … fast forward one year and Dave is now a solo artist and we see him about to go on stage to perform ‘the song’ … he has a wild look in his eye!

Studio 666 is a charming and often hilarious nod to the Horror genre, specifically paying homage to the likes of Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead), George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead) and Dario Argento (Demons). John Carpenter’s imprint also looms large over the film, and that of the style of Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead). It’s kills are gratuitous and over the top throughout, but delivered with a humour that hits every time. The band of course are not actors and once you get over some wooden acting in the early stages, the fish out of water aspect only adds to the charm of what they are trying to achieve. They clearly have no problem making fun of themselves and what it means to be ‘Rock Stars’. It must also be said that Dave Grohl himself is superb throughout, carrying the movie for the most part while all of the musical cameo’s and nods to classic crossover films such as, This is… Spinal Tap (1984) also work perfectly. A fine effort from Foo Fighters, particularly poignant given the sad passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins soon after the film’s completion, in which it now pays a fitting tribute to the close friendship he had with his band. KZ

Words by : Abstrakt_Soul


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