GRIMM and Chill: Málmhaus (Metalhead)

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On the silver screen you can find plenty of metal, rock and the lot infesting movies and series. It can go from documentaries digging deeper into some music history to movies featuring a metal/rock band as the main characters or even musicians giving acting/directing/script writing a shot… We’re taking it upon ourselves to give them a proper screening and tell you all about them.

So turn to channel GRIMM and chill

Movie Details

  • Title: Málmhaus (Metalhead)
  • Director: Ragnar Bragason
  • Cast:  Thora Bjorg HelgaIngvar Eggert SigurðssonHalldóra Geirharðsdóttir 
  • Theme: Drama
  • Publication Date: October 11th, 2013
  • Runtime: 97 min
  • Production Company: Mystery Productions

Málmhaus is a slow paced drama taking place in rural Iceland in the 1990s. Those who know me personally are aware of my love for Icelandic music and fascination with Icelandic nature. However, the vast emptiness of the countryside – no matter how breathtaking the landscape – does not look very tempting to grow up in. It feels isolated and everybody seems to know each other too well. It is in this environment that Hera (Thorbjorg Helga Thorgilsdottir) and her family have to deal with the loss of her older brother Baldur. To cope with the loss the young teenager starts identifying with her lost brother, who was a metalhead.

So this brings us to the biggest critique most metalfans will have with this movie. Yes, it is stereotypical that a metalhead is portrayed as a misunderstood teenager who has issues that are not properly dealt with. The other big cliché present in the movie is that, amidst the religious close knit community, Hera starts developing more and more interest for the black metal scene after seeing reports on television of the Norwegian church burnings. At a certain point near the end of the movie this even takes caricatural proportions with the appearance of three new characters.

But do not let this keep you from giving this Icelandic gem a chance. Besides the clichés Metalhead proves that (metal) music can be a universal language through which people feel connected, no matter how alienated they are from the world or themselves. The psychology of teenage angst, grief, and self-destruction, the position of religion in small communities and frustrations of growing up in desolate places are portrayed very well by Bragason. A certain dark and cynical humor pops up from time to time throughout the movie, rendering it not too serious all the time. And with music of Judas Priest, Mötorhead, Iron Maiden and many other bands blasting through Hera’s speakers metal fans will have fun moments recognizing classic tracks from the 90’s. A movie showing that metal music does not need to be just a phase in people lives, but that it can be part of who you are.

This post is an adaptation of an article first published by the same author on the Greek webzine Metal Invader.