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Film / Lords of Chaos

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"Based on Truth and Lies."
"You've gone too far."

Lords of Chaos is a 2019 horror/Biopic film directed by original member of Bathory turned music video director Jonas Åkerlund, based on the infamous book of the same name, focusing on the second wave black metal scene of Norway, starting with the birth of Mayhem and the events that transpired from it.

In 1987 in the small city of Oslo, Norway, Øystein Aarseth aka Euronymous (Rory Culkin) decides to do the usual thing a teenage metalhead wants to do: Make the darkest and intense metal band out there. He founds the band Mayhem and they take things up a notch with their unstable vocalist Per Ohlin aka Dead (Jack Kilmer) but things go too far and chaotic when they meet paths with Varg Vikernes (Emory Cohen), a young man who wants to take things even further.

Trailer has been released, and the movie was released February 8th, 2019 through selected theaters before dropping into on demand on February 22nd, 2019.


We're Tropes of Chaos!

  • Adaptational Heroism: While there have been stories of Euronymous as an otherwise nice guy whose antisocial personality and Satanic image was mostly an act, former Mayhem drummer Manheim recalled that he became even more "trapped in the image" of the band in the months leading up to his murder. This is in contrast to the Lighter and Softer turn Euronymous takes in the film from the moment he realizes the Black Circle may be going too far.
  • Advertised Extra: Jack Kilmer as Pelle "Dead" Ohlin, who got prominent billing due to Dead's importance to Mayhem's story — being Val Kilmer's son likely helped, as well. His character kills himself 22 minutes or so into the film, and only appears afterward in Euronymous' flashbacks.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Euronymous begins begging Varg to not kill him near the end of the movie after trying to make peace. Varg doesn't listen.
  • Artistic License – History: Varg is shown burning down the Fantoft Stave Church, however it was never proven that he did it. It could be argued that most feel he did set fire to the church, especially considering Burzum's EP Aske featured the church's charred shell.
    • While the film is fairly accurate to the black metal history of Mayhem, the film glosses over Maniac's involvement on Mayhem's EP Deathcrush, instead just jumping to Dead's time in the band. The movie also shows Hellhammer joining the band and then Dead joining afterwards, when it was the other way around: Dead joined first and then Hellhammer joined afterwards.
    • Dead's suicide note isn't accurate to the real life note, which was more detailed and had Pelle write how anybody who finds his money and lyrics is theirs to own (in particular the lyrics to "Life Eternal"), how he hasn't felt alive in a long time, and an apology for firing a gun indoors. The movie's version of the suicide note simply features the "Excuse the blood" line and the made up line of "Let the party begin!". It also was addressed as "Dead", compared to the real life note which featured just "Pelle".
    • The film actually uses this trope as a way to explain the film's Tag Line: In part of Euronymous constantly saying things to spark infamy, it leads to many of the rumors of the Norway black metal scene.
    • The film shows that Aske's release had matches. The real release of Aske had a lighter with an image of the burnt remains of Fantoft on it.
    • Euronymous's relationship with Varg is changed in this film compared to real life. The real life Euronymous was the one mystified and amazed by Varg's character, while in the film it's Varg who's mystified by Euronymous's character.
    • Zig-zagged with Varg giving Euronymous the Reh/Demo II demo. While it's the second demo Burzum made, the first one wasn't distributed yet until after Fantoft was burned down, to which the photo was used for the demo. Also while Euronymous describes the demo as having vocals, the real Reh/Demo II does not.
    • Also zig-zagged with Euronymous's murder. In real life, Euro was stabbed a total of 23 times (with Varg's argument that most of the stab wounds were at the soles of his feet). The film however seems to imply Varg stabbed him far more than 23 times.
    • Varg Vikernes actually had been acquainted with Euronymous around the time of Deathcrush, as he was the one who sent the shotgun shells that Pelle used to kill himself with, although the film probably left this out due to the debated validity of Vikernes's "truths".
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After she finds his Tragic Keepsake of Dead's stuff, Ann-Marit asks Euronymous "You really miss him, don't you?". Euro doesn't respond and simply puts everything back in the box, but judging from the earlier Nightmare Sequence of seeing Dead's traumatic suicide and later scenes of Euronymous remembering crying at Dead's body and making peace with himself by seeing Dead happy, it's clear Euro really does miss and cared for Pelle.
  • Becoming the Mask: Dead, obviously. Averted with Euronymous, who upon seeing how much trouble things will get, begins to distance himself from all the events of the scene and focus on Mayhem. It doesn't end well.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Varg is portrayed as a quiet, polite young man, at least at first. He's already a white supremacist at that point and escalates from there, pushing the band to indulge in criminal behavior for the sake of ideology, self-promotion and fun.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Depending on your view anyway: The film plays out with Euronymous killed by Varg, who's then arrested afterwards for the murder (alongside for the church burnings), Faust as well being arrested for the murder of Magne Andreassen, with band members/Ann-Marit/Euro's family in mourning. At the end however, Euronymous shows annoyance about how his story is portrayed as sad and how he is genuinely happy he was able to become a dark figure in black metal and his accomplishments in the scene, with Mayhem now being a true household name in Norwegian black metal.
  • Black Metal: The film solely focused on the birth of Mayhem, and their impact in the eventual Norwegian black metal scene.
  • Brick Joke: While travelling to see Euro, Varg tells Blackthorn to simply lie and say that they were watching the movie Die Hard 2. In the end when being interrogated by police, Blackthorn uses this excuse only for it to backfire in his face when asked what the movie is about.
    Blackthorn: It's...about dying hard twice?
    • Earlier in the film at Helvete, Varg is mocked by Hellhammer and Faust for not drinking and Hellhammer even teases him by asking if he wants milk. Near the end after stabbing Euronymous a few times in his apartment, Varg proceeds to literally make himself chocolate milk.
  • Burn Baby Burn: It's a movie about Norwegian black metal. Of course there's gonna be some church burnings!
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Euronymous acts like this throughout the movie, playing off like a big threat when he's just words and no action. Varg repeatedly calls him out on this and steps it up when he actually does start to take action by setting fire to churches.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • Mayhem (and by an extent, the Norway black metal scene) started off as harmless fun and invoking more of shock horror, something you'd expect from first-wave black metal. Then things began to get dark once Euro's desires of wanting black metal to be "dark" go too far.
    • Invoked in the trailer especially: Everything seems light hearted and usual metalhead shenanigans, Euro even seen dealing with family as he practices his music.
  • The Corruptor: Euronymous was this to Varg accidentally. Because Euronymous criticized Varg's interest in Scorpions, his name, and made other outlandish comments, Varg began to take it at face value and shows shock and frustration that Euronymous was simply building image and not actually being legitimate.
  • Darker and Edgier: What Euronymous wanted Norwegian black metal to be, until he bit off more than he can chew.
    • The film itself can count as this if you compare it to Heavy Trip, a comedy film concerning metalheads, released in Finland around the same time as the first screening of Lords of Chaos.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Euro's narration is this, especially in the end when he shows annoyance over the "sentimental" ending.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Once he starts going by Varg, the former Kristian Vikernes makes it a point to correct anyone — especially Euronymous — who calls him by his birth name.
  • Epic Fail: Varg's interview. The entire thing not only made him look like an idiot, but caused Helvete to be closed and the Black Circle to become public knowledge. The only thing Varg got out of it was more attention to himself of being released due to "lack of evidence".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Euronymous begins to show concern when the church burnings occur, out of fear of police investigation. It gets further when Faust murders someone to which he decides to get out of dodge with little to no success.
    • After being praised for the Fantoft burning in the Helvete basement, Varg proceeds to punch a member of the Black Circle right in the Adam's apple after they do a Sieg Heil mixed with Satanism in front of him and proceeds to rip into the member by calling him a "fake Nazi".
  • False Friend: Varg accuses Euronymous of this in the end during their final confrontation over a misunderstanding.
    Varg: You pretended to be my friend?! So you can hit me off-guard!
  • Foregone Conclusion: We all know what happens to Euronymous and friends afterwards...
  • Foreshadowing: Earlier in the movie, Dead attempts to coax Euronymous into shooting him with his rifle and quotes Euronymous's earlier speech ("All it takes is one bullet") but Euro himself is reluctant to kill Dead. This gives an idea that Euronymous is all words and no action, something that leads to his downfall.
    • An obvious one, but Faust wonders what it would be like to slide a knife into someone. Later on, he kills another man.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Varg started off as a fan of Mayhem who still used his real name Kristian, but when Euronymous treated him like crap, he became a much bigger threat when he began to use his anti-Christian views to set fire to the churches..
  • Gone Horribly Right: The movie could be this trope in a nutshell: Euro's desperation in making Norwegian black metal the most "evilist" music out there goes way far when church burnings and a murder occur. He immediately wants out but constantly seeks more ways for black metal to truly be evil, dooming himself more.
    • Euro's comments to Varg about black metal being anti-establishment and other things he said were taken at face value by him. When Euronymous himself points out it was just a facade, Varg quietly says he really did believe it and is shown to be genuingly upset at Euronymous being a liar and Hypocrite.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Euronymous tries to make peace with Varg by sending him a contract that transfers all the rights of Burzum's music to him, and he even makes peace with himself by seeing Pelle during their good times as Ann-Marit cuts his signature long hair, as if to symbolize his change of character. Then Varg comes over and he kills him.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Played straight and inverted. The average looking Euronymous is played by Pretty Boy Rory Culkin, whose good looks are even emphasized with a Shirtless Scene. Meanwhile, Varg is potrayed by Emory Cohen as slightly heavier and more average looking than he was in real life.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Euronymous tries to make peace with Varg by sending him a contract to give him the rights to Burzum's music. This backfires thanks to the rumors of Euroymous making a threat about killing him, pushing Varg into showing up at Oslo and stabbing Euronymous out of paranoia.
    • During the final murder scene, a badly injured Euronymous staggers to the door, desperately grabs his extra set of keys from his closet (Varg having taken his main set), and struggles to exit his apartment while Varg helps himself to a glass of chocolate milk. After several attempts to unlock the door, Euro finally stumbles out, but it's there where Varg catches up with him and stabs him until he dies.
  • Jerkass: Euronymous spends most, if not all the film, acting like a complete (albeit hammy) dick and showing little to no empathy over the destruction he causes as long as it gets Mayhem's name out there. It's made apparent near the end that Euronymous was just acting like a jerk, but he was a fairly normal person, if a bit of an Attention Whore who realizes what he wanted was too much for him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his tendencies to behave like a dick, Euronymous clearly has a good relationship with his family, especially his little sister.
  • Metalhead: Obviously.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-universe by Euronymous. He wanted Mayhem to be the most infamous black metal band out there, but bit off more than he can chew. Can also count as Be Careful What You Wish For.
  • Only Sane Man: Jorn, who made the smart decision of leaving the scene after Euro fired him and being disgusted at Euro for exploiting Dead's suicide.
    • Attila Csihar, Mayhem's new vocalist who records on De mysteriis dom sathanas, shows confusion when Varg speaks about blowing up Nidaros Cathedral in conjunction with the release of the album.
  • Posthumous Narration: The film is told by Euronymous's perspective after he's long dead. He even says to the audience that his story will "end badly".
  • The Reveal: Euronymous is shown to genuinely be broken by Dead's suicide near the end when Ann-Marit finds his box of belongings, in particular a photo of him and Dead. The film even cuts to a flashback of Euro finding Pelle's body and beginning to break down crying.
  • Running Gag: Each time Euro and Varg begin to argue, Hellhammer's reaction is to just leave every time.
  • Sanity Slippage: Varg begins to snap when rumors about Euromymous wanting to torture him and film it ala snuff film float to him, despite Euro not meaning it.
  • Satanic Panic: The film is about the Norwegian history of heavy metal and (purported) black magic during the 1990s, which added to the Satanic Panic as well as epitomizing it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Jorn quits Mayhem upon showing complete disgust at Euronymous showing him the photos of Pelle's body after his suicide and giving them skull fragments of Dead's head as necklaces so he can "be a part of them".
    • Hellhammer does this each time Euro and Varg argue about illegal activities.
  • Shout-Out: Before a band practice, Euro goes to get Dead, who's sleeping in a casket. This is a reference to an original planned show opening with the band carrying Dead on stage in a casket.
  • The Sociopath: Varg, obviously. Faust as well, speculating earlier in the film his interest in stabbing someone and then later on killing Magne Andreassen. When he's arrested in the end of the movie, he shows little emotion aside from a small smirk.
    • Averted with Euronymous. While he puts himself as a Misanthrope Supreme throughout the movie, it's shown he's a normal person with Attention Whore tendencies and quickly gets out of dodge when thing go too far.
  • Take That!: After Varg is interviewed by Finn Bjørn Tønder over his involvement with the church burnings and the Black Circle for the Bergens Tidendenote , he and his photographer proceed to call him a "fucking idiot" for basically condemning himself to the police, an obvious pint shot at Varg Vikernes himself for his constant rants and tirades about the movie.
    • Take That, Audience!: After Euro brags how happy he is with his reputation and the events of the film, he asks the audience: "What the fuck have you done lately? Poser!"
  • That Man Is Dead: Varg constantly tells people to call him "Varg" after being made fun of earlier in the movie for his real name, Kristian.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Ann-Marit later on finds a box Euronymous has that contained items originally owned by Dead, most notably a photo of the two.
  • Wham Shot: Many in the official trailer, such as: Varg setting fire to the Fantoft Stave Church, Faust murdering Magne Andreassen, Varg and Euronymous setting fire to Holmenkollen Chapel, Dead trying to force Euronymous to shoot him, and Dead's bloodied suicide note.

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