An enjoyable but low-voltage story of high school outcasts seeking rebirth through aggro music, Peter Sollett metal lords it ostensibly targets Heavy but is surprisingly Lite in its take on teenage mental illness, classroom violence, and bullying.
None game of Thrones Fans hoping writer DB Weiss and executive producer David Benioff will find a place for dragon-and-wizard-themed visions should look elsewhere than this prosaic, reality-bound Netflix story that holds no surprises. . Those looking for an emotional insight could listen to The Mountain Goats’ lo-fi masterpiece “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton,” which covers similar ground in under three minutes, creates more compelling characters even without dialogue, and might make you cry before. reaches his rousing chorus of “Hail Satan”.
The bottom line
Heavy metal in theory, easy listening in practice.
Adrian Greensmith plays Hunter, a veteran who has convinced his best friend, Kevin (Jaeden Martell, of the new That movies) that starting a gang will turn both high school outcasts into heroes. After getting into a fight with classmates in a milquetoast cover band, Hunter learns that his school will soon be home to the most screeching of movie musical plot devices, a Battle of the Bands. The problem is that SkullFucker only has one lead guitarist and one drummer.
As Hunter goes on a frantic search for a bass player, Kevin stumbles upon the answer: Emily (Isis Hainsworth), a quiet girl whose temper flares when she skips her meds, plays the cello well and has an ear for Black Sabbath drama. Hunter scoffs at the idea of putting a cellist (not to mention a girl) in his badass band; Weiss’s script conveniently forgets that the marriage of metal and strings has been mainstream since at least the ’90s, when the Apocalyptica cello quartet became famous for their covers of Metallica.
The two boys get into a predictable fight, leaving Kevin to enjoy some coming-of-age perks (first love, recognition of his quickly gained drumming prowess) while Hunter’s asshole dad (Brett Gelman) gets him. sent to a “wellness center”. As with Emily’s “happy pills,” the hospitalization is just a throwaway plot element here, not an invitation to look at the issues that might have brought the boy to Metallica and Ozzy in the first place. The movie uses it as the setting for a Joe Manganiello cameo, then lets Hunter slip away with an ease that would baffle the heroes of that Mountain Goats song.
Greensmith stands out here, offering a believable passion for Hunter’s preferred music while mastering his dismissive attitude toward all things non-metal. Once or twice, we see places that Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) could have turned the character’s enthusiasm into a spectacular class moment at the School of Rock; but the movie stops short of unearthing the star lurking within him.
(Poor Hunter, with only a metal newbie as his partner, also misses out on the social belonging kids often find outside of the musical mainstream. Check out the teens dancing to narcoleptic cumbia on Fernando Frias’s recent song.) I’m not here anymore: Now those children, playing defiantly with everything that makes them different, are Metal. And their bond is so palpable that it’s heartbreaking when one of them has to leave for the US.)
Though there aren’t many laughs on the way to Battle of the Bands, Sollett’s unassuming cast and upbeat pacing ensure we won’t be too bored before we get there. Will Rawk triumph over kids who think Ed Sheeran is cool? Will blood be spilled on stage, and if so, will it be used to summon demons? Will anyone who owns a Motörhead record still watch it at this point? “Yes” is the answer to at least one of these questions, but definitely not all of them.