There’s no question that Jonas Åkerlund’s Lords Of Chaos isn’t a title which will have a mass appeal. I can’t say for sure that watching Åkerlund’s latest project would have appealed to me given the subject matter. However, beneath the over-modulated microphones, grease-paint, and guitar riffs is a compelling look at how we crave to be part of something more significant. Rory Culkin (yes, there is a 3rd Culkin brother) plays Euronymous, a teenager who has long been credited with launching Norwegian Black Metal. This brand of metal wasn’t born out some need but more out of a desire to set themselves apart from the heavy metal acts like Scorpions (remember this was the 80’s).
So how did Euronymous set his vision in motion? Well, by basically saying (in his words) “bullshit”, he literally would say whatever twisted statement came to his mind to attract those teenager drifters who were into metal but didn’t have a group to belong to. Jonas Akerlund and Dennis Magnusson have crafted a tale loosely based on real events which shows the effects blind rhetoric has on the masses.
Emory Cohen stands out as the best performer in Lords Of Chaos. Cohen’s character Varg undergoes quite the transformation based on Euronymous’s rhetoric which regularly preached pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable. The terror comes from realizing just how thin that line is between good and evil. It’s perplexing to sit watching as these metal heads resort to burning churches and even committing murder all in the name of being accepted by their group (which in the film is named the black circle).
What caught me off guard was how Culkin’s character morphs from being this pseudo preacher of evil to one with regret. He sees what has come of his music and the darkness it spurned (Varg). Perhaps Euronymous is seeking some redemption, but we are well past that point.
Overall, the film drags at various points but never seems to get off message which makes this release one I can recommend. While the subject matter at times is graphic and at times obscene it all fits in the context of this genuinely twisted tale.