Review: Lord of Tears / Cert: TBC / Director: Lawrie Brewster / Screenplay: Sarah Daly / Starring: David Schofield, Alexandra Hulme, Euan Douglas, Jamie Gordon / Release Date: Out Now
While most independent films play it safe and throw in lashings of blood/crazed-killers/zombies, Lord of Tears director Brewster has taken a more classical route of relying on storytelling and atmosphere. Which is not to say it doesn't have its fair share of flashy visuals and memorable imagery.
School teacher James (Douglas) inherits his old family estate after the death of his mother; not only her humble home but also the mansion he lived in as a child. A letter reveals that he suffered a breakdown while living there, and was moved away to recuperate. All this has been purged from James' mind, so he takes a trip there in the hope he can make sense of it all. While there, recurring nightmares begin to consume him, and he sees the figure of an Owl Man, whom he apparently became obsessed with as a child. Staying nearby is Evie (Hulme), an American who befriends James and attempts to look after him during his less lucid moments. Delving deeper into his past, he discovers some secrets are best left buried.
The initial selling point for the film, the creepily enigmatic Owl Man, dressed in a dinner suit but sporting an owl's head and long talons, may lead viewers into thinking this is a monster movie. However, it is instead an engaging, deeply unsettling ghost story. With its roots in the style of The Innocents (1961) and the folk-horror British films of the early '70s, as well as Japanese horror such as Ringu (1998), Lord of Tears manages to combine haunting imagery with a Lovecraftian mythology which is clearly well researched and based upon existing folklore. Brewster's confident direction allows the film to develop naturally. It's a brave move, which ultimately pays off. Kudos must also be given for securing the currently in-demand talents of Schofield, who provides the eloquent voice of the Owl Man, a character which will haunt viewers for years to come.
Full marks go to the way the film is packaged; a CD-sized digipak, packed with bonus features, a separate soundtrack CD (co-composed by writer Daly, which complements the remote setting perfectly) and booklet. All presented in black paper and sealed with an owl's feather. There is also a 440 page PDF booklet to download which covers all aspects of the film and production.
The film is available to buy now from the Lord of Tears website and screens at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in Whitby on October 25th.
Extras: See above