The English-language film "Lords Of Chaos", based on true events in the Norwegian black metal music scene in the early 1990s, has just opened in theaters and will be made available on demand on February 22.
Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund (METALLICA, RAMMSTEIN) directed the film, which is being released by Gunpowder and Sky, and is co-produced by VICE Studios, 20th Century Fox, Scott Free Productions and Insurgent Media.
"Lords Of Chaos" is described as "the terrifying story based on real events about a dream-turned-nightmare for a group of teenagers who spiral out of control." The movie follows the life of Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, the founding member of MAYHEM who was murdered in 1993 by Kristian "Varg" Vikernes (BURZUM). In the movie, Euronymous "becomes fixated on creating true 'Norwegian black metal' music with his band MAYHEM, and creates a phenomenon by using shocking stunts to put the band's name on the map. But as the lines between publicity and reality start to blur, acts of arson, violence and a vicious murder shock the nation."
The movie stars Rory Culkin ("Scream 4") as Euronymous, Emory Cohen ("The Place Beyond The Pines") as Varg, Anthony De La Torre ("Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales") as Hellhammer, Sky Ferreira ("The Green Inferno") as Ann-Marit, Jack Kilmer (Val Kilmer's son) as Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin, and Valter Skarsgard (Stellan Skarsgard's son) as Faust. That cast is joined by Sam Coleman as Metalion, Jonathan Barnwell as Necrobutcher, Wilson Gonzalez Ochsenknecht as Blackthorn, Lucian Charles Collier as Occultus, Andrew Lavelle as Fenriz, and James Edwin as Manheim. Culkin and Ferreira were visible in METALLICA's "ManUNkind" video, which was helmed by Åkerlund and which contains scenes from the movie.
During a brand new question-and-answer session with BUILD Series (see video below), Culkin stated about how he prepared for the role: "With Euronymous, I spoke to people that hung out with him at the time. And there's so many photos of these guys. They were really good at documenting themselves. So there was a lot of photographs. And Jonas even made a picture script — it was like a 600-page script — and every scene was assigned a photo from that time. So there was a lot to work with.
"At first, it was hard to keep track of all these characters, with names like Hellhammer and Necrobutcher and things like that," he continued. "But it was the photos that was the most important to me. Because when Euronymous was posing in the photos, he was trying to look scary and he was trying to look evil. But when you see him in the background in the photos, he was like a little sweetie — he was giggling and stuff like that. So it was interesting to try to piece that together — what he wanted to show the world and then what he really was, which I think was a bit of a sweetheart… He was the self-proclaimed leader of Norwegian black metal, and there's something fun to that — moving heavy things without lifting a finger, and things like that. It's pretty fun to have a crew of giant long-haired dudes to do your bidding."
Jonas said that he wanted to keep "Lords Of Chaos" raw and steeped in the undramatic nature of reality, most notably in the murder scenes. "I kind of had that attitude to everything in the movie," he explained. "I wanted to be as true as I possibly could to everything… And these extreme ups and downs in the story, it's very important to feeling for the characters and understanding. The good thing, like Rory said, they were very good at taking pictures. There was a lot of research material for us. And for the murder scenes, there was police reports, so those were actually the easiest ones for me to research. I knew what happened. I knew how it happened. So that was easy, to follow that… Again, I just wanted it to be as real as I possibly could. And we shot it old school too — it's all pumps and blood and prosthetics. So we did it very old-school way, which kind of makes it look even better, I think."
Åkerlund is the original drummer of BATHORY, one of the first black metal bands, who made his mark directing music videos for artists from Madonna and THE ROLLING STONES to MAROON 5 and Beyoncé. These have won him a host of awards, including several Grammys, an MTV VMA, MVPA Hall Of Fame award and more. Åkerlund has also directed a number of feature films, including cult favorite "Spun" starring Jason Schwartzman, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy and John Leguizamo.
Åkerlund told The Hollywood Reporter that he considers "Lords Of Chaos" to be his "first real movie." He explained: "I went deeper with this film than any of my other movies. I approached my other films like I did my music videos or commercials, like jobs. But 'Lords Of Chaos' I wrote myself, and it's a close, personal story. I know these people. All my best friends are still in the metal scene. Per was a friend. We were all shocked when he committed suicide. When the news of the church burnings came out, in 1993, I was already living in Los Angeles, but we all knew who was behind them. It took the police a lot longer to find out. I've been trying to get this movie made for a very long time — I've been pitching it around Hollywood for years."
Asked why it took so long to get the movie made, Åkerlund said: "Well, I always knew this was a hard sell. It still is, to be honest. It's asking a lot from an audience. It's a very dark story but I find it hard to have a story about music and young kids without adding humor. So it's really funny but it's definitely not a comedy. It has some horror elements — I tried to make the murder scenes as authentic and as close to real life as I could, reading the police reports for details — but it's definitely not a horror movie. The tone of the movie is all over the place, but when you see it, it comes together. In the end, I think of it more of a relationship drama. It's really about the story, almost a love story, between these characters."
The "Lords Of Chaos" movie is based on the "Lords Of Chaos: The Bloody Rise Of The Satanic Metal Underground" book, which was originally published in 1998 by Feral House U.S. A second edition followed in 2003, documenting black metal activities since 1997.
The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and currently holds a 75% fresh rating over on Rotten Tomatoes.