Blu-ray Review: Lords of Chaos (2018)

June 1, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Ol’ Øystein “Euronymous “Aarseth  (Rory Culkin) lives a rather bland existence in late ’80’s Norway doing the typical teen biz; drinking, smoking, starting Mayhem…a legendary Satanic Black Metal band…the usual. The days are filled with fun, gifts of crucified mice from fanatical fans, and endless practice sessions.

Enter: new vocalist Pelle ‘Dead’ Ohlin (Jack Kilmer)…a real ray of sunshine that brings with him a heavy cloud of darkness and depression…and a real move forward for the band musically and visually. Of course tragedy soon follows and things begin to really go off the rails once the eager-to-please Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes (Emory Cohen) makes the scene along with some radical ideas (read: fucked-up) that soon have him and Euronymous at odds and things falling desperately out of control (to put it mildly).

First things first; does Lords of Chaos fuck with the facts surrounding Mayhem? Sure it does…but this is a movie version of reality, not a documentary…and what a movie it is! Director/Co-writer (along with
Dennis Magnusson…and based on the novel of the same name) Jonas Åkerlund (himself no stranger to Black Metal from his days as a member of the band Bathory) presents a visually arresting deep-dive into a metal scene not often covered in films.

It’s easy to get swept up in the enthusiasm Euronymous has for his chosen genre; and he’s an engaging protagonist (at least the movie version of him anyway) that is hard not to stay invested in no matter how dark…and believe me things get dark…events get surrounding the band, and how shitty a person he becomes at times. This of course is a testament to the masterful acting on display from Culkin. Make no mistake though; the supporting cast is equally as solid with Kilmer providing a suitably somber (yet at time terrifyingly manic) performance as Death and Cohen giving an at-times chilling performance of Varg, who starts off as the “wide-eyed innocent” but soon begins to express his own dangerous ideas as to what direction Black Metal should take to horrifying effect; and the resulting jealousy fueled cat and mouse game fall-out between him and Euronymous has tension and mounting paranoia so thick a razor-sharp sacrificial dagger couldn’t cleave it asunder!

That being said, there are a few twinges of sympathy given to Varg, mainly for dramatic effect, that I dare say the real-life version would never generate if one were to do less than a minute of research. Make no mistake; Varg is 100% the (completely psychotic, but ultimately fame-hungry) villain of the piece, and Euronymous is definitely not up to the task of besting him (though why you would even want to is a mystery to me)…no matter how earnest his love of metal…and it all comes to a head in a truly brutal and disturbing sequence that will be hard to put out of your mind.

While a tale filled with shock and horror; Lords of Chaos ultimately displays a surprising amount of heart (and humor); it’s a pitch-black journey to embark upon for sure; but it is also an unforgettable and engaging one as well!

 

 

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