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With: Dane DeHaan, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo
Written by: Nimr—d Antal, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo
Directed by: Nimr—d Antal
MPAA Rating: R for some violent content and language
Running Time: 94
Date: 09/27/2013

Metallica: Through the Never (2013)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hit the Lights

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though it looks and sounds like a regular concert movie, albeit in IMAX and 3D, the entirety of Metallica: Through the Never is staged as part of a sinister, spooky story.

The members of Metallica -- James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo -- hired director Nimrod Antal (a U.S. native of Hungarian descent), and all five worked in collaboration on the screenplay. Antal (Kontroll, Predators) runs through a thunderous stage show of favorite songs, adorned with disquieting effects, such as coffins with video images of people screaming to get out, a crumbling "And Justice for All" statue, and various accidents and explosions. The dark elements in Metallica's lyrics and Antal's touch for tense, moody locations and predator-prey situations, all combine for a surprisingly spooky concert experience. This is more than just a Halloween party; it's genuinely unsettling.

As the legendary heavy metal band gears up for its latest show, a roadie, Trip (Dane DeHaan) reports for work. As the band begins to play and Trip starts enjoying the show, he is tapped to go on an important errand. He is to bring a can of gas to a truck somewhere in the city, and then to retrieve "something the band needs tonight" from the back of the truck. Unfortunately, the unnamed city is unusually quiet, with ominous signs everywhere. As Trip ventures deeper into the urban labyrinth, things grow spookier and increasingly deadly. Meanwhile, back at the concert, strange accidents begin happening on stage. Can Trip complete his task and save the day?

To go one better, Metallica's intense, adrenaline-fueled music makes the horror sequences all that much more atmospheric and supercharged. The chills still come at the expected prickly pace of a normal thriller, but the songs seems to heighten everything to a fever pitch. And when things slowly turn from realistic to dark fantasy, the music helps the transition. The concert itself is terrific, highlighting classics from the band's best albums, and containing its own story arc. Though the movie is nowhere as deep and revealing as the great Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004), the visceral effect is like that of a great horror flick, a mix of thrumming adrenaline and breathless dread.

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