Review: LORDS OF CHAOS (2018)

LORDS OF CHAOS Poster

I was lucky enough to catch a preview screening of LORDS OF CHAOS presented by the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and The Broadway Theater. As an added bonus the -39 degree temperature made it feel like I was in Norway, thank you Mother Nature.

Based on Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind’s controversial book of the same name, LORDS OF CHAOS has already attracted it’s own share of controversy. I’m not much of a fan of Black Metal so I don’t pretend to know which of the many accounts of these events is accurate. I just know that the story as told on the screen was a damn good one.

Lords of Chaos 1

Beginning with the message that the film is based on “truth, lies and what really happened” LORDS OF CHAOS gives us a brief history of Norway as narrated by Euronymous (Rory Culkin SIGNS, SCREAM 4) before launching into the plot. The first act concerns him and his band Mayhem as they struggle to get noticed. Members come and go until they recruit singer Dead (Jack Kilmer). His talent however also comes with serious depression issues and a tendency towards self-mutilation and killing cats. When he eventually lives up to his name Euronymous is the one to find his body.

From here the film quickly heads down a very dark path as Varg (Emory Cohen SHOT CALLER) who he had once dismissed as a poser becomes his friend and rival. This rivalry leads to the now infamous spree of church burnings and eventually murder.

Lords of Chaos 2

Director Jonas Åkerlund (SPUN, POLAR) has a background in this scene having spent a couple of years as the drummer for Bathory. He certainly gives the film a convincing look and feel. There’s been much made of the film’s mostly American cast but this didn’t bother me or most of the audience I saw it with. They could have filmed it with Norwegians and subtitled it but they were going for a bigger audience than that would have given them. Plus, casting a Jewish actor as the Neo-Nazi Varg seems like a delicious dose of fuck you.

It’s subject matter and visceral approach however may limit its appeal anyway. The scenes of violence are extremely bloody and well done. There are several scenes of self mutilation, a messy suicide and a pair of murders. The climactic killing actually looks and feels like something out of DEEP RED or one of Argento’s other early giallos.

What may be most shocking however is the portrayal of these seemly fearsome incarnations of evil as middle class kids who’ve taken their rebellion to far and find themselves in over their heads. Culkin and Cohen are excellent as the two rivals pushing each other further over the line. Sky Ferreira (THE GREEN INFERNO) is wasted though as photographer Ann-Marit. She really doesn’t have much to do except occasionally take her clothes off.

If you want a documentary and a possibly more accurate telling of the story there’s UNTIL THE LIGHT TAKES US. If you want a compelling dramatization of those events there’s LORDS OF CHAOS.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy

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