During the early 90s, 17-year old Euronymous (Rory Culkin) sees himself, with his band Mayhem, as the creator and leader of Norwegian Black Metal music movement. But, the publicity stunts to garner attention go a step – many steps – too far for the “Lords of Chaos.”
“Based on truth…lies…and what actually happened” are the opening onscreen words about the real life Norwegian band and the controversies they sparked – churches burned to the ground and a gay man brutally murdered – all to publicize their Satanist message of evil and destruction.
Based on the book, Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind, director-writer Jonas Akerlund (with co-scribe Dennis Magnusson) follows Euronymous and the ever changing-members of Mayhem during the early 1990s. We watch the band evolve (actually, devolve) as member leave and arrive, like imported Swedish singer, Pelle “Dead” Ohlin, whose nickname proves apt, and Kristian “Varg” Vikernes (Emory Cohen), who challenges Euronymous as leader of Mayhem.
This telling of the based-on-a-true-story follows the real events with a good degree of accuracy and the youthful hate on exhibition is disturbing, especially for a peaceful Scandinavian country. But, aside from the repeated mentions of “Norwegian Black Metal” there is little done – like even a mild attempt to sound Norwegian – to make the viewer think we are actually in that country.
Was I entertained watching “Lords of Chaos”? I guess. It is an interesting fictionalization of the notorious metal band and the havoc they caused in proving they are superior beings to us mere mortals. (Ah, the crazy enthusiasm of youthful minds.) Did I care about their story? Not really. And, the blu-ray disc set is very sparse with extras. I give it a C+.
In 1987 Oslo, Euronymous (Rory Culkin, "You Can Count on Me") tells us 'This is my story and it will end badly.' The guitarist believed his band, Mayhem, was the true incarnation of Norwegian Black Metal, but when his commitment to spread terror, hatred and evil was challenged by bandmate Kristian 'Varg' Vikernes (Emory Cohen, "Brooklyn"), they became "Lords of Chaos."
The infamous true story of the Norwegian death metal band whose founder manipulated the gruesome suicide scene of his Swedish lead singer Pelle 'Dead' Ohlin (Jack Kilmer, "Palo Alto") to photograph it for an album cover and who was later murdered by bandmate Varg has been oddly adapted for the screen by music video director Jonas Åkerlund ('Pussy Riot: Make America Great Again'), himself a former member of heavy metal band Bathory. Firstly, there is no effort to make the players sound Scandinavian, Cohen coming across like the son of a New Jersey carpet salesman. Secondly, there is no analysis of the music that drives the scene. Thirdly, the film has a weird tone, one that is at turns blackly humorous, movie-of-the-week-ish or straight out horrific. That it succeeds as well as it does is largely due to Culkin, director of photography Pär M. Ekberg's striking visuals and its truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story about artists who prize image over all.
MVD Entertainment has issued a blu-ray/DVD combo pack with an unrated 118 version on blu-ray and the theatrical 116 cut on DVD. Extra features are limited to the film's trailer and a large assortment of television teasers.
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