Rite Here Rite Now review – soft-metallers Ghost offer skits and shreds in fan-service film

<span>Like Marmite … Ghost.</span><span>Photograph: Ryan Chang</span>
Like Marmite … Ghost.Photograph: Ryan Chang

The concept of a cultural object as “Marmite” – ie you’ll either love it or hate it – is an overused one but may come into play here. Rite Here Rite Now is essentially a rock concert film, showcasing the Swedish theatrical rock band Ghost, and it’s exactly the sort of on-the-face-of-it loud and wacky business that people like to describe as a Marmite movie – but the truth is that at its core, it’s a pretty tame film, which fits the band’s goofy brand of soft metal.

Rock bands have a long history of dubious antics in their capacity as professional provocateurs, but Ghost’s major controversy is not especially rock’n’roll: it’s a legal dispute as to whether the masked “Nameless Ghouls” who make up the majority of the band qualify as band members or session musicians. The most daring (and genuinely rather tasteless) moment in the film comes courtesy of the closing credits – a montage of various famous serial killers might feel par for the course in metal-land, but the inclusion of other imagery such as the haunting image of nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc in the Pulitzer prize–winning photograph The Terror of War is an odd choice tonally.

As a concert film, Rite Here Rite Now checks the requisite boxes: plenty of footage of guitars being lustily shredded, wide shots of the stage in all its pyrotechnical glory, closeups of elaborate face-painted fans screaming, scenes of the audience with their hands held aloft etc ad infinitum. Filmed over the course of two shows, and directed by indie darling Alex Ross Perry, the virtuoso musicianship of the Nameless Ghouls is undeniable. These guys know how to hammer out a riff, with traditional chord progressions underpinning melodies that are easy to listen to but equally easy to forget afterwards.

Where things get a bit dafter, in ways that will presumably satisfy the faithful fanbase, is in intermittent scenes of the band’s frontman Tobias Forge performing short skits backstage, which according to the film’s promotional blurb, qualify the movie as “so much more than a concert movie”. Really, do tell? How much more? Perhaps some sharpening of the script might have helped in that department – sample exchange: “You will have an aha moment.” “I hope so, I love A-ha!” Groan. Even Fozzie Bear would think twice.

• Rite Here Rite Now is in UK and Irish cinemas on 20 and 22 June.