Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund has been slowly carving up a career looking at suitably unhinged characters and the psyche of the human mind throughout the few feature films he has heralded so far.
These in turn were built on the shoulders of numerous music videos, working with talents such as Prodigy, Metallica, Madonna, and Rammstein, so it was of little surprise that in 2018 he would turn his attention to some music roots closer to home albeit with his neighbouring country, Norway and the birth of the black metal scene that surfaced in the early 90s.
Metal has always been synonymous with horror films, so it seems fitting to have a film that circulates these two themes as the cornerstone of its narrative.
From the get go Åkerlund throws in the caveat that the story is about truth and lies, allowing him as the creative to have free license around the events that unfolded between Euronymous, Varg and the Black Circle.
As he weaves in the real-life characters who strive for infamy whether that is through music or political empowerment, inner turmoil surmounts to a place that can only result in destruction.
The question remains for those not familiar with the history, is whose destruction will it ultimately be and at what cost?
Watching Rory Culkin’s performance as the narrator and mastermind behind Mayhem, Euronymous, I’m once again reminded of the strength of his performance as an actor as he sways from likeable, annoying, disturbing, and back to likeable again with chameleon-like ability on-screen.
In many ways, Culkin is the centrepin of the film, resting on the need for the audience to engage with his actions, whether it is with disgust or delight as he attempts to carve out a trajectory that will transport him into fame and beyond.
The true horror of the piece lies within the extent to which all the characters will go to in order to not only outperform but shock each other for the cause.
The further they descend into hell, the murkier the original cause becomes and no matter how much Euronymous tries to salvage the situation and maintain control, anarchy has already been unleashed and too many fractured actions will inevitably splinter the group.
The focus primarily being between newcomer Varg and his ambitions to direct Norway away from christianity and toward Odinism.
The delivery of the film is also nicely off cantor, so that feeling of unpolished actions resonate strongly, especially as the characters are always on the brink of implosion, which invariably brings about panic or stupidity and Åkerlund never shies away from exposing those moments of mindlessness.
There are moments of pure joy, anarchy and Mayhem throughout the film that highlights the plight and peril of a deliberately disorganised association’s attempt to resurrect a new medium into the world, only to stare at the horror and destruction that unfolds around them in the process.
The damned will be doomed.
There is no salvation.
Just the remnants of what once stood before them.
Burn the walls down and cut away at life’s obstacles and you fear exposing the frailty of humanity beneath it all.
Director Jonas Åkerlund manages to do this while providing an engaging storyline, supported by some great performances, grounded in the reality of the environment and all the more harrowing that it is based in truth… and lies of course.
- Saul Muerte
Lords of Chaos is available to view via Video On Demand
or buy from Umbrella Entertainment.