Spoiler Alert; although I assume most inclined to watch the movie already know the bloody details of the “satanic black metal underground” in Norway.
Most in the metal community rightfully cringed while viewing the trailer for the recently released “Lords of Chaos” film. “Lords of Chaos” was released on Friday, February 15, 2019. The film was directed by former Bathory drummer Jonas Akerland and starred Rory Culkin (Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother) as Euronymous and Emory Cohen as Varg. It is loosely based on a true story as it was depicted in the bestselling novel “Lords of Chaos” by Michael Moynihan, which is widely known to have grossly exaggerated the events that took place between the infamous “Black Circle” in Norway in the early 90s. Despite the fact that the book is an obvious exaggeration of the events, reading it is still much more worth one’s time than watching this absolute disaster of a film.
The first notable detail was director Akerlund’s odd decision for Euronymous’ character, played by Rory Culkin, to provide a “Wonder Years” style narration to the film. This gave the movie an immediate air of cheesiness. And although the film did not appear to be taking itself too seriously, any real chances at humor were lost under a thick veil of discomfort that seemed to plague all the actors onscreen. As if watching a high school production, it was extremely obvious the characters were acting, which made them difficult to connect with.
What especially irked me was the disappointing portrayal of Varg Vikernes in the film. Although the man is completely bat-shit crazy, what makes him so dangerous is his intelligence. “Lords of Chaos,” however, portrayed Varg as slow-witted, reckless and a bit of a follower. They focused heavily on his involvement in national socialism but not all on how role-playing games influenced him. Later in the film, when his involvement in politics was supposed to be getting deeper, Cohen’s dedication seemed contrived or forced. I just didn’t buy it. Even his burgeoning anger toward Euronymous seemed disingenuous.
The movie was also sloppily put together. The depiction of Bard Faust, for example, was particularly thoughtless. The character is introduced only in passing at Euronymous’ store, Helvete. Moments later he’s depicted brutally stabbing a homosexual man to death. There’s little to no lead up to this horrific scene. It’s 0 to 100 with this character.
It’s flubs like these that led to, perhaps, the most disappointing aspect of the film — the utter lack of relevant music in the soundtrack. Aside from “Freezing Moon” and “Necrolust,” which were repeatedly played in the score, practically no Norwegian black metal appeared in the film. This is because the bands refused to sign off on the rights to the music after reading the script — which blatantly admits it’s full of lies. Instead of modifying the script to gain the support of the bands portrayed in the film, Akerlund went ahead and began shooting and it shows.
Although I have very little positive feedback for this film, I must admit the portrayal of Dead’s suicide and the stabbings of Euronymous and Magne Andreassen were exceptionally brutal, which is fitting for such a dark story. They did not hold back on the blood or shy away from showing Dead blow his brains out. In fact, though he laid it on pretty thick, Dead’s portrayal in the film was probably my favorite. The book talks a lot about Dead macabre obsession with death, road kill and astral projection and the movie seems to accurately depict the character.
Despite having spent years in conceptualization, as a final product, “Lords of Chaos” seemed rushed. In interviews, the actors seem to know little outside the conventional mythos, and many elements of the whole story were left out of the film. The lack of overall character development made the story difficult to engage. At the end of the day, what was missing from this narrative was a purpose. Though Euronymous’ admission at the end was surprising, the movie seemed to be in a hurry to fit in all the events without attempting to convey a message of any kind. Overall, I’d say stream this one for the lulz. This is not a serious production in any sense of the word.