Metalhead May Be The First Movie to Give an Accurate Look Into the Mindset of Metal Fans

Ultimately a drama, it exposes the roots of why we are attracted to the music in the first place.

-By Doc Coyle

The heavy metal world has been touched upon by filmmakers a handful of times, mostly as a collection of clichés and cartoonish buffoonery, informed by the outlandish imagery of the 1980’s mainstream metal explosion. Generally, the depictions were harmless and affectionate like This Is Spinal Tap, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Wayne’s World, and Airheads. Sometimes, they are tone deaf and mostly inauthentic like the more recent entries, Rock of Ages and Hesher. Icelandic film, Metalhead is perhaps the first motion picture to capture and project an accurate portrayal of the mindset of real metal fans; it exposes the roots of why we are attracted to the music in the first place, through-and-though, to our the core of our souls.

The plot revolves around a farming family in a desolate and isolated, rural Icelandic community who is dealing with the death of their eldest son, Baldur, who was killed in a farming accident. Our protagonist, Hera, is the sister who witnessed her brother’s death as a 12 year old, and deals with the grief by diving into Baldur’s leftover heavy metal and rock music collection. She burns all of her “normal”, colorful, girly clothes and immerses herself in heavy metal culture: starts playing her brother’s guitar, wears a leather jacket and metal T-shirts, and isolates herself in a headphoned cocoon of Judas Priest, Iron Iron Maiden, and Megadeth. We fast-forward several years where she is a young adult, but is still playing the part of the rebellious teen, self-banished to her room in the safety of her music, posters, and guitar. Hera also engages in a series of reckless and destructive activities that terrorize the quiet small town. Meanwhile, her parents have dealt with the grief by avoiding emotional reconciliation and from the comfort of their small community and local Christian church.

I have to declare that Metalhead is exceptionally well made. Director and writer, Ragnar Bragason, deserves hefty praise for his superlative work. The beautiful cinematography is breathtaking, brilliantly capturing the stoic and bleak, mountainous backdrops. Every acting performance is rich, melancholy, and believable. The written dialogue has flow and a natural pace (even if it is subtitled). And the music and sound design strings you a long with every emotional wave, pulling you in to the intimate moments where your heart almost stops and the elated moments make the hair on your arm stand up.

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