New To Blu: The Blackest of Black: Lords of Chaos (2019) Reviewed

Oslo, Norway. The mid-'80s. A new sub-genre of music is born. From a subculture of doom, chaos and death are unleashed. Mayhem is born. Animals die. Churches burn. And the subversive sounds of a defining musical outfit revolutionize an alternate realm of rock. 

The blood curdling tale of the Norwegian Black Metal band, Mayhem is now available to watch in the comfort of your own home theater, satanic temple, or slaughterhouse. Choose at your own risk. 

This is an upsetting feature that dives deep into the blackest of holes, but fails to ever create a defined presentation of who these people are or were. Their backstory is just skimmed over as we're immediately thrust into Norway mid-'80s with little to no character development and a flat delivery system that takes our lack of knowledge for granted. Yet, Rory Culkin and Emory Cohen do breathe gothic life into two individual roles that may have faltered under less talented actors. As a whole, it's the script that seems to miss the mark in many areas. But I do believe that true fans of Mayhem will find dozens of things to love about Lords of Chaos. For all it's worth, this at least finally gives some attention to a type of music that's never been given the attention that it's due.

Set during the early days of the infamous musical outfit, the details are mostly there but are obviously changed to suit the format of the film. Skimming over the creation of Mayhem, the professional evolution of Euronymous, and the fateful dealings that would ultimately aid in his demise at the hands of maniacal black metal prodigy Varg Vikernes, this dim rock drama paints a dark portrait of the creation of a movement, their skewed reality, and their disturbing lifestyle. 

Even though they're few and far between, the recreated live performances are some of the best ever filmed. Yet, Lords of Chaos spends most of its time informing us on the church burnings, murders, and ritualistic animal killings that fueled the band. Using a bare bones, minimalistic style that borders on sheer boredom at times, the realistic and terrible tale of one of the music genre's most notorious bands plays it too close to the chest as it also tries to shock and awe with unforgiving scenes of human bloodletting and sleazy overtones that somehow fail to live up to the grotesque perversions of the real life characters being portrayed in the movie. If you can't handle the sight of realistic flesh cutting, heads being blown off, dead cats, or over the top multiple stabbings or murders....this film won't suit your evening. 

Displayed in a nearly sympathetic light, Akerlund's latest will satisfy some thirst for the die hards that follow this scene, but has the opposite effect also. Considering the volatility of the true life story, Lords of Chaos never finds a true tone and remains emotionally flat throughout, missing the story arc transitions that are typically needed to build anxiety or some type of connection to a tale of social misfits hell bent on personal destruction. 

Lords of Chaos is one of the most thematically dark movies I've seen in quite some time. This isn't an easy watch and requires endurance to get through. Each death scene will cut you to the core. The live sequences are amazing. Unfortunately, all the good doesn't fully outweigh the bad. If black metal is your bag, you'll still want to view this mildly tainted historical lesson. 

-Chris George