Metalhead is a dramatic Icelandic film from director Ragnar Bragason that, as I’m sure you deduced, has heavy metal at the center of it all. Here is the setup: the movie’s main character, Hera, loses her older, metal-obsessed brother in a tragic accident and finds she is unable to cope with his death. She, along with her parents, tailspin into a seemingly unending downward spiral that lasts for more than 10 years, leaving them broken and dysfunctional.
Shortly after her brother’s death, she discovers his collection of posters, tapes and records and quickly embraces the scene with all of her being, teaching herself to play guitar and transforming herself physically and mentally along the way. Heavy Metal becomes her obsession and the soundtrack of her life, defining everything she is and does.
The combination of her brother’s death and her bleak outlook on life (she works at a slaughter house), drives her to embrace the darker more extreme sides of the metal scene and she eventually writes and records some very dark, black metal-inspired tunes. This film takes place in the early ’90s and there is a definite tie in with the rash of black metal-related Norwegian church burnings that were prevalent during that time. Spoiler Alert: there is a pivotal scene in the movie when Hera is watching the coverage of the church burnings that sets her on a path of destruction, both literally and figuratively.
Ultimately though, this is a tale of redemption, and through all of her struggles, mistakes, and really bad decisions Hera is able to make peace with her past and move on with her life. With the help of some very interesting and unsuspecting characters, like the newly-appointed town priest, Hera finds her way back and is able to embrace life once again.
I thoroughly enjoyed Metalhead. The cinematography is stunning and the soundtrack is a terrific mix of ’80s and ’90s metal. If you can get by with subtitles, this is a fantastic move that will appeal to metalheads everywhere.
Run Time: 97 minutes
Release Date: March 20, 2015
Check out the “Metalhead” trailer.