Lords of Chaos is a 2018 horror film co-written, produced, & directed by Jonas Åkerlund (Spun, Polar, Small Apartments, & Horsemen). Based on the 1998 book by Michael Moynihan & Didrik Søderlind. It’s inspired by true events. It was co-written by Dennis Magnusson (Oskyldigt dömd, King of Devil’s Island, & Jordskott). It was produced by Fredrik Zander (The Island, Atomic Blonde, The Dead Don’t Die, & Chappaquiddick), Natalie Farrey (Her, Where the Wild Things Are, & The Mountain), & Shane Smith (The Beach Bum, White Lightnin’, Goldie, & The Bad Batch). Jonas Åkerlund played drums for for the Swedish metal band Bathory. It was originally developed in 2009 with Sion Sono as the original director. It premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
In the 1980s, a young guitarist called Euronymous (played by: Rory Culkin from Castle Rock, Waco, Scream 4, & Signs) forms a black metal band called Mayhem. The first of the genre in their country of Norway with Necrobutcher (played by: Jonathan Barnwell from Ripper Street) on bass, & Manheim on drums. Manhein leaves & he is soon replaced by new drummer Hellhammer (played by: Anthony De La Torre from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales & Johnny Gruesome). They recruit a new vocalist from Sweden called Dead (played by: Jack Kilmer from The Nice Guys, Woodshock, & Josie), while performing live shows he cutts himself & bleeds on the crowd. At a show filmed by their friend Metalion, the band meets a fan named Kristian (played by: Emory Cohen from The OA, Killerman, Shot Caller, & The Place Beyond the Pines). Dead commits suicide & leaves a note. Euronymous takes photos of the body & moves the evidence around. He gives necklaces to the other band members which he claims are pieces of Dead’s skull; this disgusts Necrobutcher, prompting him to leave the band. Euronymous starts his own black metal record label & opens a record shop called Helvete (“Hell”). It quickly becomes a social hub for black-metallers like Metalion (played by: Sam Coleman from Leatherface & Game of Thrones), Fenriz of Darkthrone (played by: Andrew Lavelle from Waiting for Leonard Green), Faust of Emperor (played by: Valter Skarsgård from Black Lake, Funhouse, & Don’t Click), & Kristian (who is now calling himself Varg Vikernes) of Burzum.
They become known as the “Black Circle”. After being mocked by Euronymous, Varg uses his anti-Christian beliefs as motivation to burn down a local church. Euronymous recruits Varg as bassist, a guitarist called Blackthorn, & a Hungarian vocalist Attila Csihar to record Mayhem’s first album “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”. A power struggle between Varg & Euronymous starts to happen after some success. After a wave of church burnings begins, Faust kills man & it leads police to link black-metallers to the crimes. Helvete is raided & shut down by the police. Varg is the number one suspect for all this chaos. Varg tells Euronymous that he is leaving Mayhem & that he is going to start his own record label. Euronymous in a fit of rage threatens to kill Varg. He sends a contract to release the rights for his music back to Varg. As tension builds up between the two ego driven musicians, Varg decides to confront Euronymous about his past bullying & his current threats on his life. Will Varg finally shit his former hero & leave everything behind? or Will Euronymous manipulate him like he always does????
Lords of Chaos is basically the black metal version of Bully. I was a big fan of that film & I’ve always enjoyed metal so I was very curious about that combination. Music video director Jonas Åkerlund has only done a few films but they all stand out on their own especially Spun. You don’t really see too many features made about the black metal sub-genre & the 80s scene when it was booming. They captured that time period perfect here, it took you back to the days where music was more than a digital phenomenon. All the record stores & real releases from the artists. Musicians were hungry back then & they put more effort into their projects compared to these days. The set design & locations were on point, they created the atmosphere needed for fascinating story of bullying & jealously gone too far. This is Rory Culkin’s break out role & he gives his greatest performance in his entire career in this.
He plays the villain very well, you start to hate Euronymous quick & it gets much worse as you get to know him better. He is a much better actor than his famous brother Macaulay. Emory Cohen held his own against Rory, he goes from follower to leader with this character. I am definitely interested in seeing other films with him in it now after experiencing Lords of Chaos. Sky Ferreira (The Green Inferno, Baby Driver, & Twin Peaks) is always great eye candy, she had a solid role in this. The rest of the supporting cast fit this whole story & scene like they were meant for it from the start. They all had a realistic vibe to them. They carefully put everything together for Lords of Chaos. The script was very dark as the film progressed & it went deeper into this black metal world. I love when a independent comes along like this, it’s a gem & I noticed it’s starting to find a bigger audience after it’s release. It’s very entertaining, fans of metal will really dig this, & it has a few powerful performances. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation plus special features from Gun Powder & Sky! This 1080p (1.84:1) uncensored director’s cut transfer captures the 80s black metal scene & it looks fantastic on blu ray. It has the same English: Dolby Digital 2.0 track on there twice, the surround must have accidentally replaced by the duplicate. The dialogue is crystal clear & the music sounds solid for being the Dolby Digital 2.0 version. Considering this is a movie about music, I bet the surround version would have been amazing but it still sounds good in the home set up for what it is. It has English & French subtitles. The only extras on the release is 11 “Director’s Teasers And Trailer” which includes Pelle, Dead, This is Gonna End Bad, Attila, Coffin, Dirty Harry, Graveyard, Hold Door, The Bass, Time to Leave, Dark Throne, & Trailer. This is a limited edition release that includes a DVD. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!