SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2013
By Don Simpson | January 17, 2013
Director: Kat Candler
Writer: Kat Candler
Starring: Jonny Mars, Heather Kafka, Addisyn Stevenson, Donn Donni, Micah Sudduth, Alicia Bucci, Chris J. Knight, Hugo Martinez, Peggy Schott, Richard Striebel
While on stage, Ian (Jonny Mars) dons creepy corpse paint as the lead singer of a black metal band; otherwise, he is just a normal, thirtysomething husband to Rose (Heather Kafka) and father to Lily (Addisyn Stevenson). Like most performers, Ian’s stage persona is merely a fictional character and he does his best to keep the two distinct personalities of his Jekyll and Hyde lifestyle quite separate.
On the fateful night that we meet Ian, it is revealed that one of his fans has murdered a high school teacher and tagged the crime scene with the logo of Ian’s band. Ian instantly faces the hateful disdain of the media and surrounding community; like any normal human being, he wrestles with the guilt and blame associated with the murder.
The Sundance Film Festival has made Black Metal available via YouTube:
In arguably his greatest dramatic performance to date, Jonny Mars is incredibly convincing in his portrayals of both aspects of Ian’s life. Mars plays the lead singer of the black metal band with blood-curdling authenticity, while also being incredibly tender and empathetic as a loving family man. In other words, Mars goes from being someone I would not want to run across in a dark alley to someone I would love to have as a close friend. It is Mars’ performance as Ian the family man that really makes Black Metal work. In Mars’ hands, Ian is sculpted into a real person, thus putting a human face on the discussion about the entertainment industry’s role in perpetuating violence. Not to get all meta on you, but Mars’ performance in Black Metal serves as a reminder that the members of black metal bands are merely acting a part — this is something that rabid black metal fans should keep in mind when worshiping the fictional stage personas of their pale-faced heroes.
Writer-director Kat Candler’s Black Metal comes from the rarely (at least that I am aware of) portrayed perspective of an artist who is blamed by proxy for a murder. Regardless, Black Metal does not take sides; instead, the film prompts many of the right questions while purposefully leaving them all unanswered. Of course, with only a nine-minute running time, Black Metal does not have the time to delve deeper into the issues. Like Candler’s equally masterful Hellion, Black Metal plays like a succinctly edited teaser for a feature-length film that leaves us wanting a whole lot more. Hell, yes! Give us more Black Metal!
Also, be sure to check out Linc Leifeste’s Sundance 2013 interview with Kat Candler.