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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

Lords of Chaos

2018 | HungaryUnited KingdomSwedenNorway | 118 min | More...
A still from Lords of Chaos (2018)
B+: 4 stars (out of 5)
on Thu Feb 29, 2024

I’m not a fan of Norwegian Black Metal or even its more accessible forebears. But Lords of Chaos is the Raging Bull of Norwegian Black Metal movies.

An opening title card informs us the film is based on ”truth, lies, and what actually happened.” In the early 90s in picturesque Oslo, Euronymous, played by Rory Culkin, forms a heavy metal band named Mayhem.

Determined to one-up other metal acts, Euronymous conjures a new sub-genre: Norwegian Black Metal, an aggressive, dissonant speed-metal cousin draped in Satanic imagery.

The group finds success. But before they can release an album, their frontman kills himself. This plays out in a gruelling, graphic sequence. Undaunted, Euronymous appropriates the corpse photo for the group’s first album cover.

Euronymous continues spinning the Black Metal mythology, mixing Satanism, Odinism, and anarchy. He attracts an acolyte played by Emory Cohen who buys in and burns a church. Shaken but undaunted, Euronymous appropriates credit, sparking a rivalry. As Euronymous says at the film’s opening, “This is my story. It doesn’t end well.”

The film held me rapt. Even the voice-over narration works, propelling the story along in a manner reminiscent of Goodfellas. Nobody affects a Norwegian accent, but Culkin and Cohen convince in their parts.

It works on multiple levels. It’s a harrowing, cautionary tale of dangers of fame-at-all costs. It’s the story of one man stoking and exploiting a marginalized group’s rage and insecurities.

It’s brilliant. I just wish it hadn’t nicked Wanted’s closing line.

Viewing History

    Watched on
    Thu Feb 29, 2024 via Blu-ray (Arrow, 2019)
    Watched on
    Wed Oct 13, 2021 via Hulu