Lords of Chaos (2018)

Drama/ Crime/ Thriller
Rated 18
Spoiler Free

I can’t hear Lords of anything and not think about the awful Skyler and his band Lords of the Underworld from South Park. Having now seen Jonas Åkerlund’s Lords of Chaos, about the real life Norwegian Black Metal “pioneers”, all I can conclude is that South Park probably did not create those characters by accident. With my recent rambling rant about Sully and why real life stories can stink up the big screen, I won’t spoil Lords of Chaos’ story. I always try to avoid spoilers, and this isn’t a well known case.

You’ll notice very quickly that despite being about Norwegians in Norway this film is spoken in English by Americans. So not quite English. Starring Rory Culkin, an excellent actor who may or may not be a clone, Lords of Chaos is appropriately cast. They all look exactly like 80’s/90’s metallers from any place in the world, and are speaking English. Lords of Chaos needs to constantly remind you this isn’t Tennessee or Iowa or Canada or wherever by throwing in Scandinavian TV clips and visuals in.

Will the Culkins ever escape being Culkins first and talented but interchangeable actors second? Do they look more like their Mum or their Dad? I only ask because I’m a shit stirrer.

Jonas Åkerlund imposes an apt Kerrang/ MTV aesthetic and editing style in places but makes Lords of Chaos a believable, very graphic and potentially upsetting drama. One self harm scene is portrayed bluntly, which I admired though to say I liked it would be going too far. I am sure that’s what they were/ are going for with the film. Just as believable as the violence is Loards of Chaos’s introspection and motivations.

“You do as I say or you’re outta my band!” Oh please. How far do you have to go to be “real”? when your parents send you congratulatory flowers, and you runs a boys’ club for pretentious proto-goths. It is all bogus and delusionary, black metal willy waving which gets beyond out-of-hand. All of the crime, its origins and escalations are simply bravado, one-upmanship and in short they’re all pathetic. The worst kind of psychopaths; boring, insufferable ones. That’s deliberate, and probably accurate, 

I had the most sympathy for the “realest” band member. He truly felt nihilism and saw it through. Incredibly sad, and while the film never tries to make Culkin’s character completely empathetic, he has enough about him to not make the film repugnant. It’s all about perspective, angles and craft of storytelling. It is a very complex subject matter in all fairness, but Lords of Chaos presents as a film which is nonetheless still confused about what it is saying.

Bedsit it?

There is a grim realism to the violence in Lords of Chaos which is a little voyeuristic and made me sneer with approval like the horrible little man I am. I was confused, and I liked it. For whatever complaints I have, this is a good film which I enjoyed. Definitely one which comes with warning for a graphic blunt approach that borders on insensitive, but I could overcome that because I’m hard. 7/10

Films based on true crime? Check these reviews out!..


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