Directed by Jonas Åkerlund and written by Dennis Magnusson and Åkerlund, Lords of Chaos is adapted from the 1998 book of the same name. Just like the book, if you’re after an accurate history lesson about the events surrounding Mayhem co-founder Euronymous, Varg Vikernes and the early 90’s Norwegian black metal scene then you should probably give this a miss.
It is a semi-fictionalised account of the events that occurred leading up to the murder of Euronymous. So with that in mind, a lot of what you see here has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
That being said, as a semi-fictionalised account of those events, it’s entertaining. It stars Rory Culkin as Euronymous, Emory Cohen as Varg Vikernes, Jack Kilmer as Dead, and Sky Ferreira as Ann-Marit.
The story is told from the point of view of Euronymous for most of its run-time and surrounds the formation of Mayhem. The suicide of Dead, the aftermath of that and opening of Euronymous’ label/shop Helvete. An infamous social hub for all of Norway’s black metal fans and bands. One in particular is drawn to it and Euronymous.
This is Varg Vikernes and his desire to be accepted sees him burn down a local church. The infamous church burnings are covered as well as Varg joining Mayhem as a bass player and releasing his own music under the name of Burzum.
The film shows the power dispute that erupts between Varg and Euronymous as well as Emperor’s Faust’s murdering of a gay man. The Kerrang interview that brought the Norwegian black metal scene into the world’s eyes and the eventual murder of Euronymous at the hands of Varg.
There’s a lot to tell and not a lot of time to tell it so that does mean we get some seriously glossing over of more important moments in the true stories of this time.
Now, we know these stories but we’re no historians. We’re not reviewing this movie on accuracy as we’re aware a lot of what happened then has been embellished or lied about. Honestly, there are only two people who really know what happened in Euronymous’ apartment and one of them is dead.
As far as visual entertainment goes, Lords of Chaos really delivers. The pacing is pretty much spot on and other then some rushed moments regarding Dead, it’s a great recanting of an old story.
A lot of this comes down to the quality of the acting too. Rory Culkin was an interesting choice for Euronymous seeing as he has such a memorable ‘Culkin’ face but he is great. Emory Cohen as Varg Vikernes is a little too cheesy at times but really plays his part with aplomp when called upon. However, the standout portrayal is Jack Kilmer as Dead. Good god, he embodies this role and showcased the man’s manic depressive mind to a horrifying degree.
The characters draw you in but the story keeps you focused. Yes, it’s a semi-fictionalised account but it’s a damn entertaining one.
Also it gives us here at GBHBL a huge amount of pleasure to hear that the anti-Semite Varg Vikernes was upset about his portrayal in this movie, in particular that he was played by a Jewish actor.
Lords of Chaos (2018)