Euronymous, an Oslo teenager hellbent on launching true Norwegian Black Metal, shapes his band Mayhem with edgy publicity stunts that invokes the calling of Satan and being an anarchist against the moral norm to make his brand renowned around the underground music world in the late 1980s. As his fame flourishes with creating ungodly music, owning and running a music store, and helming his own record label, Euronymous continues his crusade agasint the establishment, but the lines blur when his messages of hellfire become unforeseen reality. Suicide, arson, violence, and coldblooded murder push Euronymous to the limits of his own soapbox inactions, leaving him open for the possibility of being overthrown by his own acolyte metalheads.
To prepare myself for Jonas Åkerlund’s biographical thriller, “Lords of Chaos,” I immersed myself into Jason Lei Howden’s 2015 black metal horror film “Deathgasm” as precursor preparation into the intense and unforgiving metal macabre genre. Whereas “Deathgasm” is a balls to the weed whacker splatter film of the pissed off demonia kind, “Lords of Chaos” is a polar horror feature with factual roots. Åkerlund’s, who directed Mads Mikkelson in Netflix’s “Polar” and has an extensive history in directing music videos for various artists, draws inspiration for the 2018 film from his own experience in a Swedish Black Metal band, Bathroy, from the late 80’s. The Grammy award winning music video director creates beauty out of the horrific true life event, unidealized nearly entirely without much speculation that faithfully puts to picture a misanthropic tragedy in a bone-chilling manner.
From “Signs” to “Scream 4,” Rory Culkin has remained on the actors-to-watch radar and is most certainly, our favorite Culkin to watch on the screen. In “Lords of Chaos,” Rory plays and narrates the story as Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, the guitarist and creator of Norwegian Black Metal band, Mayhem. As if written stars, Euronymous surrendered to Rory Culkin’s performance and Rory Culkin became Euronymous. The eerie synonymous blurred identities that catapults Culkin to be admired amongst his peers and his worked beloved. Opposite Culkin is Emory Cohen as Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes, former Mayhem bandmate and convicted murdered of Euronymous. Cohen is bitterly intense with a historical figure whose committed arson and homicide and the New York City born actor uncomplicated approach to a complicated character had a natural phenomena about that would spook your soul from your body. Culkin and Cohen fed off each other’s energy to an explosive dynamic too good to be stagecraft. Another highlight from “Lords of Chaos,” though rather story line brief, is Val Kilmer’s son, Jack Kilmer, as Per Yngve Ohlin aka Dead. Kilmer tackles a depressed introvert and, in one opinion, nails the mental deficiency metalhead who was ordained to take his own life with great savagary showmanship. The film also costars Sky Ferreira (“Green Inferno”), Valter Skarsgård, Anthony De La Torre (“Johnny Gruesome”), Jonathan Barnwell, Sam Coleman (“Leatherface”), and Lucian Charles Collier.
If not paying attention, “Lords of Chaos” will slip under the radar since most audiences are conditioned to subsidize shiny cinema productions that make you feel all warm and cozy inside and spark wander and induce marvel and amazement. Åkerlund’s film will not send those sorts of puppy dog tingles down your spine. Many biopic films about ill-fated tragedy don’t do well with the general population; “Auto Focus” comes to mind with Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe. Critics eat up the inherent black dramas like Cookie Crunch and “Lords of Chaos” exudes madness and misery through deep seeded vigor for fame and principle. Åkerlund deserves nothing but our admirable applause for delivering an unadulterated visualization of literal mayhem from soup to nuts.
Umbrella Entertainment releases onto DVD home video “Lords of Chaos,” a co-production from Gunpowder & Sky, 20th Century Fox, Vice Films, and Insurgent Media. Presented in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Umbrella Entertainment’s picture quality is exemplary in it’s natural, yet supernatural-like surrealistic manner in a clean digital presentation. Pär M. Ekberg’s depiction is hard-edge elegant and haunting with recreations of and the intertwinement of actual photos of Euronymous, Varg, and Dead. If you’ve seen “Polar,” you know Åkerlund and Ekberg brush stroke a fine line between reality and graphic novel much the same as “Lords of Chaos'” allegory. The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix has high level attributes with clean and perceptible dialogue, a vast range of ambient noise, and a killer black metal soundtrack worth banging your head to. No bonus features accompany this title. “Lords of Chaos” is a heavy story that needed to be told and feels very much like a part of Åkerlund, an extension of himself through his past brought forward to illuminate the blackness in us all derived from the power of metal with a psycho-psychology that’s industrial-built.
Senior year 1978, right before the start of his 13 year killing spree, Jeffrey Dahmer struggled to fit into the high school equation. Spending much of the time in his makeshift laboratory, dipping roadkill into jars of acid to retrieve the bones that were still intact, Dahmer didn’t have many friends to socialize his unbalanced behavior. His interest in dissecting animals and an unearthed fascination with the same sex drove him to stay in serene isolation, but when his parents, between the marital spouts and his father’s projections, pressure him to make friends, to live an active lifestyle, Dahmer reduces himself to being the class clown for acceptance, catching the attention of three students who befriend him because of his classless antics. Just as his life begins to form something that similar normalcy, the familiar urges overwhelm when he fantasizes about a young male doctor of sleeping with his fresh corpse. With the inkling to kill creeping to ahead, Dahmer drowns himself in alcohol while still maintaining what’s left of his friendship that suddenly feels more like his exploitation for the benefit of others.
What a hell of an origins story! “My Friend Dahmer” is the 2017 biographical docudrama from writer-director Marc Meyers that becomes the looking glass into the catalytic events, or even last moments of hope to reform, infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The film is a visual adaptation of John “Derf” Backderf’s graphic novel of the title. Backderf was also one of Dahmer’s only friends in high school and relates his experiences through exaggerated illustrations of his graphic novel. With in the film, Meyers notably recounts the pages of the Backderf’s novel with a story that puts Dahmer justifiably at the epicenter that focuses almost entirely from Dahmer’s disturbed and warped point of view of inner body interest, homosexuality, and standards of social acceptance. Rarely, does Meyers stray from that structure in obtaining the external thoughts and opinions of Dahmer’s friends, and perhaps even enemies, who’ve made some sort of interaction, but being that the novel is a work of someone else’s non-fictional perceptions and not of Dahmer’s, Meyers puts weight forthright with Backderf’s opinion with the characterized Backderf interjecting here-and-there on accounts that significantly courses Dahmer’s actions.
Surely an eye brow raising casting choice, Disney Channel actor and Kids’ Choice Award winner Ross Lynch enters into a polarizing role that is the pre-monster of Jeffrey Dahmer and creepily channels in a powerful performance the embattled younger image of the soon-to-be murderer, cannibal, and necrophiliac. Lynch portrays Dahmer as a rare emission of emotion and almost frighteningly stiff or mechanically with hunched shoulders just below his wavy blonde hair that wrap around the large and rounded rectangle glasses. New York City born actor Alex Wolff picks up the graphite pencil to spun out probably Dahmer’s closest friend John “Derf” Backderf. Perhaps in a way, Backderf had manufactured a piece of Dahmer’s destined genetic makeup and Wolff lays in the guilt, and the fear, thick when around Dahmer near the end. Anne Heche (“Psycho” remake) and Dallas Roberts (“The Walking Dead” and “Mayhem”) become Joyce and Lionel Dahmer, Jeffrey’s parents. Heche and Roberts seize every on screen opportunity to lay into one another, a persistent and regular difficulty that stemmed between Joyce’s mental and physical heath and Lionel’s withering patience for his anxiety riddled wife. The cast rounds out with Vincent Kartheiser Liam Koeth, Tommy Nelson, and Harrison Holzer.
Aside from the retelling of Backderf’s recollections, “My Friend Dahmer” shoots scenes right inside what was once Dahmer’s actual home in Ohio. That bit of realism adds monumental flavor to enrich the inherently dark subject matter of how a young Dahmer was subjected to compounding blows to his psyche in the short timespan that was his senior year. From his father tearing down his makeshift laboratory and junking his precious dead animal experiments, to his mother’s divorce inducing schizophrenia, and to being the class clown in order to make friends, Dahmer couldn’t maintain control over his ebb and flow urges and Meyer effectively highlights these chapters in Dahmer’s frayed playbook of life that tipped the scales of unfavorable malice.
FilmRise and MVDVisual present “My Friend Dahmer” on a AVC encoded 1080p High Definition Blu-ray with a 2.40:1, widescreen presentation. Through a vista of small town quaintness, picture quality immensely defines a cold embrace of a softer, fluffier effect. The color palette strongly reflects the whitewashed and faded of the era. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 stretches the ambient with a film that doesn’t necessary pack an audio punch. The dialogue is rendered cleanly and the retro soundtrack is a boost to docudrama with clarity and pace. Bonus features are a bit thin for a non-fictional individual with humungous notoriety and they include a brief interview with star Ross Lynch, Behind-the-Scenes slide show, and a theatrical trailer. “My Friend Dahmer” revitalizes the feelings and the chills that washed over us who are old enough to remember Jeffrey Dahmer’s grim-storied apprehension and, yet, director Marc Meyers is able to strip Dahmer of his monstrosity for 107 minutes and make him simply human as a young man with everyday problems without a ounce of parental, professional, or friendship guidance, funneling to the notion that we all have a little Jeffrey Dahmer in us.
In a world under sieged from a highly contagious virus, known as the ID-7 virus, that blocks the uninhibited and explosive impulses, workaholic Derek Choe attempts to make a footprint at his ruthless, white collar firm, but lands on the receiving end of a frame job that results in a pink slip and being escorted out of the building. Before being able to walk through the exit by security, an ID-7 invasion as quarantined the office and symptoms are seeping to the surface. All hell breaks loose amongst co-workers, exacerbating the already highly caffeinated, extremely strung out, intensely coked up, and amoral aggressive behaviors of a volatile workplace environment, and an infected Choe aims to reach the top floor to violently express to the firm’s board on why they should reconsider his termination, but a drug-fueled, and also infected, boss strives to make that endeavor challenging with the assistance of his lower tiered, corporate suits.
“Mayhem” is a HR nightmare! The Joy Lynch 2017 directed action-horror film is “The Firm” meets “The Raid: Redemption!” Luckily for the viewers, “Mayhem” is a hardcore insight into unlocking all of your deepest, darkest inhibitions to the tun of explicitly telling off your boss with every four letter expletive in the book, giving your rotten colleague a firm piece of your mind, or just knocking everyone’s teeth down their smug throat. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie. Lynch (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End) runs with the first time feature film from screenwriter, Matias Caruso, who designs a virus, called the ID-7, that removes or ceases to function what defines us as human, from compassion to sympathy, in order to frankenstein a demented rendition of Donkey Kong and Caruso’s characters basically all have singular mode – asshole – but that subversive level stems from an infection induced state and the characters, deep down, maintain a slither of their original selves in an extremely dark comedic sense.
On the coattails of his character’s brutal demise on AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” Steven Yeun remains in an dimension plagued by a different kind of viral infection. Instead of blowing the brains out of walkers, Yeun brilliantly and entertainingly fills the ambitious workaholic shoes of account manager Derek Choe who literally battles his way to the top after being canned by his unscrupulous consulting firm and when the ID-7 overwhelms each and every employee. Choe is a far cry from Glenn on “The Walking Dead,” a pure hearted character with a good moral compass. Yeun’s character’s moral compass is skewed without doubt and double skewed with introduced by the virus. Choe forms an unlikely pact with a desperately disgruntled borrower Melanie Cross fighting against the firm, and the firm’s bank, looming foreclosure and the sassy, blond ass kicker, embraced by “The Babysitter’s” Samara Weaving, can chew gum and kick tail all at the same time. The pair are pitted against the some of the office’s most ruthless suits, such as a sociopathic HR enforcer known as The Reaper (played by “The Walking Dead” vet in Dallas Roberts), a manipulative snake charmer Cara Powell (Caroline Chikezie of “Æon Flux”) and at the top is none of than the big boss played by “Hellraiser: Revelations'” Steven Brand. Not only does “Mayhem” have colorful, well-scribed anchoring characters, but the supporting parts are just as well-quick-e-quipped too with Kerry Fox, Claire Dellamar, André Eriksen, and Mark Frost (“Faust”).
“Mayhem” relishes in the ferocity of that of a Mark Neveldine “Crank” franchise, but lacks a certain coherency untuned to seamlessly sustain the story to the end. Moments of purely poor editing don’t convey the full message intended, leaving much desired when considering the hero and heroine’s plight through the firm’s ruthless hierarchy to the top. These moments don’t make or break the story and are minuscule in portion size but are large enough to thwart going unnoticed. Another annoyance of how the story is told is the off screen violence. With a feature entitled “Mayhem,” by very definition states, “violent or damage disorder, chaos,” one would imagine that any and all violence would be in full display, showcased proudly and exhibited without ambivalence, and the beginning starts off energetic enough with an explosive scene of a conference room brawl involving the attendees in a all out melee, a half naked couple sexing right on the conference table, and ending the scene with a murderous gashing of one’s carotid artery. Narrating why these berserkers are killing and humping each other is Steven Yeun’s Derek Choe, setting up the ID-7 as the uninhibited virus. The violence that pursues goes into a hot or cold state where the latter involves off-screen violence, especially between Chikezie and Clarie Dellamar’s characters in a fight to the death between boss and assistant, but in a heated exchanges that had more girth in the dialogue, their actual bout screens over to Choe and Cross’ blank stare expressions and the determination of who bests who goes into a big question mark status.
RLJ Entertainment releases “Mayhem” onto various formats include a not rated DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming platforms. I am unable to comment or critique on the audio and video qualities of the film as I was provided a streaming link that didn’t include bonus material; instead, I’ll comment on how Lynch and the rest of filmmakers did a remarkable job constructing an ambiguous building structure along with the help of the two Stateside based production companies Royal Viking Entertainment and Circle of Confusion. Though the film was shot in Bulgaria, the location could have been right in downtown of your nearest city and that fairs in “Mayhem’s” success to establish anywhere as a victim to the virus or a workplace go array in the world. The next time you want to take a heavy duty Swingling stapler to you’re supervisor’s noggin for assigning to many TPS reports to you, check out “Mayhem” to instill that visceral courage and audacity to do so all the while being entertained by utter, unadulterated violence and violent thoughts and actions that usually spur underneath the breath of a common office environment.