I like Foo Fighters. How could you not? Their music is great. And despite his long hair, body tattoos, frontman Dave Grohl is like the Keanu Reeves of hard rock. You like him because of his attitude. He fell off a stage and rather than being taken away in an ambulance, he had them wrap up his leg and he finished the set sitting down on a chair. He even apologized to the audience for the interruption.
David Letterman even got the band to play for him during the final moments of his show Late Show because he was a big fan. And their long live jam performance of “Everlong” over clips of the show was the perfect way to end the show. Dave has appeared in The Muppets and Bill and Ted Face the Music. He even played Satan in Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.
So, naturally, it was only a matter of time before he would take lead in a feature movie, even if it’s playing himself in Studio 666. The movie is about the band performing recording a new album in 2019. They are pressured by their manager Jimmy Shill (Jeff Garlin) to move into a mansion in Encino, Calif. The house looks dilapidated but immediately Dave likes it.
The movie has a prologue in 1993 where a young musician, Skye Willow (Jenna Ortega), drummer for the fictional band Dream Window is bludgeoned to death with repeated hammer blows to her head. It’s at this point I knew the movie was going to be a let down. Rather than just hit her death, we see her mangled bloody head as it is repeatedly hit by another band member. Whenever a horror-comedy uses over the top violence like this, it’s trying too hard.
Also, it’s been about 30 years since The Larry Sanders Show premiered on HBO and the notion that celebrities may act differently than their public persona is all well and understood. After having sat through the atrociously horrible horror-comedy This is the End, I still don’t understand why celebrities think it’s funny to show them as jerks to people, screaming “fuck” and its derivatives so many times. The only things these movies and shows seem to appease are the celebrities themselves. I understand that sometimes a band like the Foo Fighters might have disagreements over music or recording. I don’t think seeing them pretend to argue repeatedly is entertainment.
The problem is the Foo Fighters are musicians. They’re not actors. So even if they played it straight, it wouldn’t have worked. Yet, I think it might have been a decent B-movie horror. Almost immediately, Dave gets possessed by a demon after listening to a demo he finds down in the basement where there is a Satanic ritual set up. He then begins to force the other band members (Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel and Chris Shiflett) to continue to perform despite their concerns something isn’t right. To make matters worse, one of their techs, Krug (Kerry King of Slayer) is electrocuted while trying to set up the equipment. Despite this, Dave feels the need to continue on.
While the band makes up most of the main cast, there’s also a nosey neighbor, Samantha (Whitney Cummings) who tells the other band members about the house’s dark history. There’s also a food delivery guy, Darrel Sandelbaum (Will Forte), who just so happens to be surprised to see Dave at the house and has his own demo album from his band. They, of course, becomes eventual victims as Dave turns crazy and starts to murder the rest of the band. I guess the humor is since Dave seems like such a nice guy in the public image, watching him go demonic and murderous is funny.
And I will admit, I laugh at some of the jokes but I felt I was laughing because I needed to laugh not that the jokes were good. Dave gets a story by credit and director B.J. McDonnell has mostly done music videos and Hatchet III. But this suffers the probem that afflicts many horror-comedies. They’re not really funny, nor are they really scary. An opening title theme composed by John Carpenter, who makes a cameo appearance, is a nice ode. And there are homages to The Evil Dead, The Exorcist, The Burning and even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I even think the shadowy demon figures look a little like the Belrog from Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings. And there is one good scene involving a cymbal that I want give away.
But at 106 minutes with credits, this movie is too long. It might have worked better as a Halloween special on a streaming device. The movie was mostly shot in secret but had to be shut down in the early days of Covid-19 even though it resumed after safety regulations were put in place. The movie opened in late February a month before Taylor died of an accidental drug overdose. Shortly before his death, he reported that he didn’t rehearse his scenes but improvised his lines. I think if it had more of that improvisation, it might have worked better.
Or maybe that the Foo Fighters shouldn’t give up their day jobs. I still like their music. I just wish I could like this as much.
What do you think? Please comment.