Aug 2, 2019
Another Friday, another Fantastic Fest feature! Andrew Campbell is back with a review for a film about the birth of the shockingly violent black metal scene in Norway. The film is directed by Jonas Åkerlund, whose recent Netflix Original film “Polar” (Episode #412) was a bit of a letdown. You can catch Shane Hyde’s review if you want more information on that film, but it did not score very well with the critics at all. Will today’s film be different? Andrew will let you know in a minute.
But before we get started, we’re running a promo for our good friends on the Bicurean Podcast. Every episode, Aicila and Erik cover a wide range of political and social topics, with an eye, and an ear, towards finding common ground even in the most divergent topics. This week they sat down with well-known author, Gail Carriger, and bisexual activist, Robyn Ochs, to talk about the invisible nature of being femme and bisexual. You can find out more information at bicurean.com and subscribe to the show via your favorite podcatchers. A huge thank you to Bicurean for their support of One Movie Punch this year on Twitter!
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Here we go!
Hello film fans!
Andrew here – staying over in Europe after our time in Hungary with “Liza the Fox-Fairy” a week ago. Traveling north, this week’s film is a co-production of Sweden and the UK, but set in Norway. My general impression of Scandinavia, particularly Sweden and Norway, is of a picturesque land and a modern culture with strong social programs where the average life-span is over 90. Recent films set in this region tell a very different story. Sweden-set “Midsommar” (Episode #527) is on its way to becoming a modern horror classic. “The Quake” (Episode #466) is an epic disaster movie that envisions the destruction of Oslo. And “22 July” (Episode #286) recounts the horrific true story of a 2011 mass shooting. Today’s film doesn’t stray from this path, recounting actual events from the early 1990s. Trigger warning on this one for realistic depictions of self-harm, including suicide.
Today’s movie is “Lords of Chaos”, written by Dennis Magnusson and Jonas Åkerlundand directed by Åkerlund. Director Åkerlundis a veteran music video director with just a handful of somewhat forgettable feature films under his belt including the 2019 Netflix acquisition “Polar” (Episode #412). ”Lords of Chaos” stars Rory Culkin, an underrated Culkin brother who was in some great films during his teen years, including “Mean Creek” and “Igby Goes Down”. Culkin portrays Euronymous, the leader and drummer of black metal band Mayhem. Euronymous is all about marketing himself and his bandmates as truly evil in order to cultivate a cult following. After the suicide of their lead singer, who went by the name Dead and was known for mutilating his body during shows, the band brings in new member Varg (Emory Cohen) a young man who had been a fan of the band. As meek Varg becomes emboldened by his mild fame, this sets off a power struggle between Euronymous and Varg that would lead to deadly consequences.
The central narrative in this story revolves around Euronymous and Varg and their escalating desire to be seen as truly evil. Euronymous manipulates those around him to commit awful acts through gaslighting and direct bullying. Reluctant to carry out crimes on his own, he manipulates his fellow band members to take action to promote Mayhem’s image. Varg, on the other hand, truly embraces his dark side, and escalates the severity of his crimes in order to wrest power over the band from Euronymous. The members of Mayhem that are alive today, 25 years after the events depicted in the film, dispute the accuracy of much of what is depicted, but there are news stories and court cases to support some of the pivotal events.
The most striking thing about the film is the casual realism in the crimes (both violent and non-violent), as well as in the protracted (and likely accurate) suicide scene. The horrors here are truly awful, and it’s a story the audience would never imagine could be true were they not told otherwise. What we see is young men with varied upbringings and a host of psychological problems exacerbating each other’s need for attention and adoration in an environment that rewards them for it. The film delves unflinchingly into the dark corners of human nature and dares the audience to look away.
What makes “Lords of Chaos” fantastic?This is a brave story to tell as there is no protagonist worth rooting for and the subject matter is so dark that it will instantly turn off all but a few with the stomach to endure. The cinematography is staid and the various settings are pedestrian in such a way that it enhances the realism. The acting is a bit of a mixed bag scene-to-scene, but the cast nails the more visceral moments.
“Lords of Chaos” (2018) is a true story of misguided youth living in a world without consequence that is not for the faint of heart. Fans of real-life tales of violence such as “Monster”, “Dahmer”, “Badlands” or “Bully” will enjoy this film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
One Movie Punch: 7.2/10
“Lords of Chaos” (2018) is rated R and is currently streaming on Hulu and Hoopla.
Come back next week as we continue our European tour with a stop in France to check out “Girls with Balls”. Acquired by Netflix and released last week, the film tells the story of a stranded volleyball team on the run for their lives, hoping to turn the tables on their tormentors. Sounds like a blast. See you then.