Ooh, I like this. A no-budget film that was distributed via the internet, Lord of Tears does suffer from its lack of resources but if you can forgive the occasional lapses in pacing and sometimes variable acting (which if you’re being positive could be described as having a naturalistic feel which isn’t that far from what you get in Mike Leigh or Ben Wheatley films) it’s really a quite astonishing achievement.
James (Euan Douglas) inherits an old manor house called Baldurrock in the middle of the Scottish Highlands from his estranged mother. He hasn’t been back since spending his childhood there, during which his mother was suffering from a serious illness and he was plagued by nightmares about a sinister ‘owl man’ who nobody else could see. Despite his lingering fears he returns to try and discover what had happened back then, because he feels that there was something going on which he couldn’t quite understand at the time. Upon arrival he is met by the housekeeper Evie (Lexy Hulme) and the two of them strike up a firm friendship. But the owl man is also back, there is a locked basement that nobody can get into and it becomes increasingly clear that the secret of Baldurrock might not be one that should be discovered.
This has been compared to old fashioned Hammer Horror movies, but that’s not quite right: it’s not as theatrical as Hammer films and less reliant on identifiable monsters. In fact it’s a lot more like those old MR James adaptations that used to be on TV in the seventies, with a touch of Kill List and The Wicker Man thrown in for good luck. The narrative is sparse and sometimes predictable but it maintains its sense of mystery and takes some care with its characters. But what’s best about Lord of Tears is it’s sense of atmosphere: with its regular inserts of insects and glimpses of the owl man (which despite being a dude in a suit with an owl head and some immobile talons is a really eye catching creation) it sucks you in and never lets you go. And the best that can be said about it is that it’s one of those rare films that sticks with you for some time after its conclusion. Very impressive.