Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Movie with Abe: Lords of Chaos

Lords of Chaos
Directed by Jonas Åkerlund
Released February 8, 2019

There are often behaviors and worldviews associated with certain types of art. That’s especially true when it comes to music, with religion, politics, and other cultural factors affecting the people who write and sing it. Not all motivators are positive, and that can be reflected in the genre of music produced and the way in which songs are broadcast out to the public. It can be difficult to separate the legacy of a type of music from the history related to it, which will always come to define it.

Euronymous (Rory Culkin) is a guitarist in Norway in the 1980s who puts together the black metal band Mayhem. Early events include the hiring of a Swedish singer named Dead (Jack Kilmer) who commits suicide not long after joining the band, forever altering their trajectory and the attitude they express. As Euronymous begins associating with a passionate fan, Varg (Emory Cohen), they start burning down churches as an expression of their liberal religious beliefs. A desire for more publicity and an acknowledgment of their uniqueness leads to a breaking point between Euronymous and Varg over who truly embodies their movement.

The kind of music portrayed in this film is described by some as hard on the ears, and that expectation is logical going in. The story, unfortunately, mirrors the aggressiveness of the audio, filled with many angry and volatile moments. Watching these two people hell-bent on popularizing their music and getting it out into the world go to war over how to best represent their countercultural notions is far from appealing, especially when this film reaches a disturbing point defined by violence, approaching the questionable categorization of this film as horror, a mildly accurate depiction of some of its events.

As with many films about international historical figures, even ones as recent and on the fringe as these ones, all the characters speak with American accents, not concerned at all with putting any effort into mimicking the way the real-life people they portray actually speak. What they say is also far from riveting, seemingly too simplistic and whiny compared with the depth of the story depicted here. Its plot takes unsettling turns, and, in addition to being horrific and off-putting, they don’t feel believable. The documented true story is indeed incredible, but this adaptation fails to create a stirring and compelling representation of both the music and the people who created it.


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