Studio 666: Foo Fighters horror mash-up is not good – but it’s good it exists

This revolting film is a welcome curio – it’s like The Monkees sitcom but much bloodier

Studio 666
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Director: BJ McDonnell
Cert: 18
Genre: Horror
Starring: Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Rami Jaffee, Whitney Cummings, Leslie Grossman, Jeff Garlin
Runing Time: 1 hr 46 mins

Rock'n'roll groups have been appearing in films for as long as the genre existed. Way back in 1956, Bill Haley and His Comets performed their biggest hit in Fred Sears's ramshackle Rock around the Clock. The least likely of rock bands guided Slade in Flame to minor-masterpiece status in 1975. Through subsequent decades, Prince, Eminem and Lady Gaga acquitted themselves admirably. But what we're really missing are those light-hearted flicks in which an unpretentious band solve crimes, fight monsters or otherwise behave like the heroes of a Saturday morning cartoon. Maybe The Beatles ruined it for everyone by perfecting the art in A Hard Day's Night. There was that Kiss movie. The Spice Girls had a crack in the surprisingly durable Spice World. But music acts take themselves a little too seriously for that these days.

Never mind "these days". You could not imagine Nirvana appearing as themselves in a pirate movie or an alien invasion flick. Foo Fighters, formed by drummer David Grohl following Kurt Cobain's death, were, from the off, a less sombre, more party-hearty outfit. The sort of act who might license a pinball machine. Or appear in a gratuitously revolting horror movie.

Studio 666 is not exactly a good film. It is not a particularly enjoyable one. But it is cheering to know it is out there in the world – merrily not being a tortured autobiographical tale of ghetto life or a compilation of musings on the singer’s sociological concerns. Grohl moves the band into an abandoned mansion to complete their latest album and promptly loses his soul to blood-hungry demons. It is not at all like the Monkees’ pointedly surreal (and rather good) movie Head. It has much in common with the Monkees’ TV show (only much, much more violent).

Alas, the Foo Fighters struggle with an insoluble problem throughout. Whereas the Monkees were selected partly for their zany personalities and the Beatles often seemed as if they were so formed, Grohl's band come across as a jolly, mildly animated, now unmistakably middle-aged group of landscape gardeners. Pat Smear, the band's sexagenarian rhythm guitarist, is a particular stranger to animation. The poor man appears blinking into the room like Frankie Pentangeli's brother in The Godfather Part II and drones out his lines with the inexpressive regimentation of an automated answering service. If I am thinking of the right guy, bassist Nate Mendel comes closest to meeting the dictionary definition of acting, but even he seems unlikely to move on to Chekhov.

Maybe they are just too nice for this sort of material. Fans of the genre will perk up at a brief sight of John Carpenter and a few strains of his characteristic tinkly chords. It transpires the veteran director couldn't resist the band's charms. "He emailed back and said, 'Fifteen years ago, Foo Fighters took my son's band on tour,' " Grohl explained. " 'You treated him so well on the road. Not only will I be in your movie, but I'll write the theme song.' "

Nobody would be foolish enough to approach a Foo Fighters movie expecting material on a par with early Carpenter classics such as The Fog or The Thing, but a little more variance of tone would be nice here. Grohl finds a sacrificed racoon in the basement. He sees mysterious movements in the bushes. Before long his teeth are sharpening and – horror of horrors – he is composing an epic 42-minute track that he compares favourably, apparently without irony, to a song by awful Canadian pomp-rockers Rush. BJ McDonnell directs the slaughter with gusto, but can do nothing to counteract the flatness of the performances.

For all that, it is good that such a thing exists. There are no friendlier places than hard rock gigs or horror film festivals. Few so disgusting entertainments have bristled with such hearty goodwill. Take that as recommendation if you are able.

Opens on February 25th