metalheadeOne Films
2013
NR

On a rural cow farm in Iceland Hera’s brother is killed in an accident and she blames herself for his death. In her grieve [sic] Hara finds solace in the dark music of heavy metal and dreams of becoming a rock star.

I first heard about the foreign film Metalhead on the Metal Sucks website that I frequent years ago. Back then, it was still making the rounds at the usual film festivals that go on in Europe. Of course, it had a title that guaranteed my attention.

The description intrigued me further: An Icelandic farm girl grows despondent after the tragic death of her older brother and turns to the Undisputed Music of Awesome–namely, \,,/METAL\,,/–to help cope. And embrace it she does: She not only wears her brother’s collection of vintage, drool-worthy band t-shirts and listens to it constantly within her room festooned with posters and magazine pin-ups, but she also composes her own music. But unfortunately, since she is a teenager, she also has a few additional forms of self-expression, most on the destructive shenanigans side of things–breaking into the neighbor’s houses in the middle of the night to drink their booze, stealing tractors for joyrides, setting their cows free, hijacking the PA system at the slaughterhouse and cranking \,,/METAL\,,/ through them, making passes at the new pastor of their church, things like that. Ah, memories. Anyway, after her childhood friend proposes to her, and her advances at the single pastor were rebuffed, she reacts in the only logical way she knows how: burning the local church down. This proves to be one step too far for the townsfolk, and she makes off for the hills (literally), where she nearly freezes to death, and sees a brief vision of her dead brother, and makes her way back to a forgiving village and accepts the marriage proposal of one of her childhood friends, assimilating into normal rural Icelandic routine. Of course, she’s absolutely soul-crushed, but what is there else to do? Nothing but play doting farmer’s wife…until a trio of Norwegian Black Metal musicians show up in her village looking for her, due to coming across a copy of her demo tape and totally wanting to join her band. So then she drops her metal-hating fiancée and joins up with the guys and plays a totally awesome set at the village’s community dinner-thing. The movie ends with the teenage girl and her two parents dancing to Megadeth’s “Symphony Of Destruction”.

Metalhead falls under the category of Coming-Of-Age Drama that utilizes a bit of pop culture as part of the context of the story, instead of Metalsploitation. I wasn’t really expecting Metalsploitation, mind you, but I would be lying if I said that the presence of \,,/METAL\,,/ wasn’t the sole reason for me buying the streaming version on my Google Play account. I wanted to see how well the \,,/METAL\,,/ references were worked in, regardless of how boring the movie might actually be.

Fortunately, even though it’s not one of the genres I usually glom to for my cinematic downtime, Metalhead turned out to be a rather good movie, well-shot and well-acted. Yes, it’s a foreign film, and yes it has English subtitles, but I found that the actors conveyed their characters very well, to where I probably didn’t really need the subtitles to read the dialog coming from their expressions and performance. The \,,/METAL\,,/ is used well as a good framing device, and not as an afterthought, which is refreshing, to say the least. And finally, we get a depiction of a Christian minister that not only not portrayed in the typical cinematic manner–i.e., judgmental, self-righteous and possibly psychotic–but actually had a history with \,,/METAL\,,/, and understood Hera’s interest in the music.

Overall, Metalhead was very much worth a watch. It’s a compelling drama that is refreshingly saccharine-free, and actually gets the whole \,,/METAL\,,/ part of things right. To say nothing of how awesome the soundtrack is. Definitely worth checking out.

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