This is the astonishingly (inspired by a) true story of the notorious Norwegian black metal band Mayhem and how efforts by its leader Oystein Aarseth (a spot-on Rory Culkin) to involve in the band’s marketing satanism, suicide and murder led to a tragic end.
As is the case with most headbangers, Aarseth was mostly a showman, caring more about selling records than the bad music. But he failed to realize how literally his followers would take his occult message. Problems began with the appearance of Kristian “Varg” Vikerens (an absolutely chilling Emory Cohen) who rapidly morphs from adoring fan to band member to unhinged rival.
Music-video director Jonas Akerlund’s unpleasantly compelling film is not for everyone; three scenes involve unwatchable violence. Few insights are offered and the tone swings jarringly between goofy and gory. My main takeaway was that the church-burnings of the 1980s and early ‘90s were not a dark, nihilistic movement, but merely a dick-measuring contest between bigoted poseur band members. Unbelievable. (118 min)