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Lords of Chaos - Film Review

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by Nessa123 (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Perth, Western Australia.
Published February 7th 2019
Based on truth and lies
2019 has only started and Lords of Chaos is already being labelled as one of the most controversial and must-see films of the year.

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A stunning poster, for an equally stunning film


Many people who have never seen this film are talking about how terrible it is and I'm here to tell you right here and now not to believe the haters! Go see this incredible film for yourself on the biggest screen you can find!

Based on the book of the same name and directed by Jonas Åkerlund (2000's Try and 2002's Spun), who co-wrote the script with Dennis Magnusson (Let the Right One In and Jordskott), the film tells the loose story of the real-life black metal band Mayhem. The film depicts a series of truths, rumours and outright lies, which always seem to blur together whenever anyone discusses the members' rich history, which is shrouded in darkness, involving copious amounts of music, vandalism, suicide, betrayal and murder.

For those not in the know, before Jonas Åkerlund started working in film, he was the drummer for the Extreme Metal band; Bathory.

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All empires eventually fall


The film is told from the point of view of Euronymous, played by Rory Culkin (2002's Signs and Scream 4), who, along with his friends Necrobutcher, played by Jonathan Barnwell (Ripper Street and Midsomer Murders) and Manheim, played by James Edwyn (Pao) formed the band in Norway during the 1980s, which paved the way to the invention of Black Metal itself. However soon after, Manheim leaves and is replaced with Hellhammer, played by Anthony De La Torre (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Vida) and a new and entirely unique vocalist from Sweden called Dead, played by Jack Kilmer (The Nice Guys and The Stanford Prison Experiment).

While it does wonders for the band's image, Dead is exceedingly self-destructive, as his name implies, has an insatiable obsession with death. He collects dead animals in a bag and huffs on them before each gig, buries his clothes in a grave and digs them back up before shows. He cuts himself with broken bottles live on stage, throws severed pigs heads at posers and oozes of everything that is true black metal.

For those who may not be familiar with the story of Mayhem, be prepared to be confronted with some very heavy subject matter which may be triggering to some, to say the least. This film gets dark, fast.

Eventually the band tees up with another infamous musician known as Varg, played by Emory Cohen (The OA and The Place Beyond the Pines), who kicks off a power struggle within Euronymous's Black Circle and that's when all hell truly breaks loose!

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Nothing is sacred


The pacing of the film really takes you off guard, reflecting the manic nature of the scene as it rapidly changes from the exciting life of extreme metal to acts of violence and hate. With a generous mix of dark humour and action, the film keeps you on the edge of your seat, even if you know the history of transpired.

The actors all did a brilliant job at portraying their characters, as they evolve from teenagers playing in a basement, to fully corpse painted leaders of a new and exciting genre of metal while capturing the more human side of the stage personas they took on.

The visuals of the film, which are perfectly edited together, are both striking and confronting, showing Norway's great beauty contrasting against the grimy dark nature of Black Metal. The real-life musicians are given further tribute through the recreation and featuring of some of their most iconic photos.

The score is appropriately dark, leveraging some great music from the early Black Metal scene, including that of Mayhem themselves, which helps to drive the story to its inevitable conclusion.

While there is a lot of controversy about the accuracy of the story portrayed in Lords Of Chaos, what has made it to the big screen, actually works well in telling a compelling tale, which is well worth seeing.



Lords of Chaos is rated R and is recommended for those over the age of 18, as it contains a high impact suicide scene and violence.

9.5/10

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14.

For more music on film, check out:
Orgy of the Dead
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