>> This past year brought a surge of musical biopics and dramas, and it seems like this trend is here to stick around. The latest addition to this starry-eyed dream boat genre isn’t all that glitzy and glamorous, instead it’s deranged and quite disturbing. Lords of Chaos directed by Jonas Åkerlund follows the true story of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem—it’s blunt and at times gross, but brimming with stellar performances.

Inspired by the book of the same name, Lords of Chaos takes place in Oslo during the late 1980s. Determined to make Mayhem more popular, the frontman Euronymous (Rory Culkin) arranges shocking and morbid stunts to bring attention to the band. However, once other band members begin performing their own sadistic acts the line between performance and reality begin to blur.

Lords of Chaos isn’t afraid of censorship, which is the only attitude a film about death metal should have. If you consider yourself a squeamish person, you’ll be watching a good majority of this film by peeking through your fingers. Åkerlund, who is known for his music videos, shows a great amount of promise specifically with the performances he shaped. Culkin’s performance is subtle and controlled, and this is the best we have seen from him in quite some time. Emory Cohen’s performance of the psychotic hot-headed Varg is chilling.

The film tackles some large themes, specifically the intricacies of humanity and humility—which only succeed due to the lead performances. This film is a bit predictable—it’s easy to see where it’s going after about 15 minutes in, and depending on your personal threshold for gore and satanism this may not be the most enjoyable film to watch. Yet, for those who seek out the latest and greatest psychological thrillers, you might want to add this one to the list. << 6.0/10

Lords of Chaos was released in selected theaters on February 8th.

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