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LORD OF TEARS (2013)
Directed by Lawrie Brewster
Written by Sarah Daly

After attending the funeral of his estranged mother and inheriting the family assets, James Findlay (Euan Douglas) goes against his deceased mother’s wishes and travels to Baldurrock Estate, a place which he grew up in as a young boy and which he’s inherited. After a traumatic childhood, James is convinced he’ll find answers there. Upon his arrival, he meets the beautiful Evie (Alexandra Hulme), a young American woman with a bubbly personality and lust for life. Living next door in the Stables conversion, Evie drops by the manor house and cooks and cleans for James, as well as providing some much needed company. As the two get to know each other, James is plagued by nightmares of a figure… a man in a Victorian suit, but with the head of an Owl and talon arms to match. James confides in Evie and the two decide to investigate by reading the journals and books dotted around the house. As his nightmares become more frequent, James must confront his fears but will he be prepared for what’s in store?

Lord of Tears is an independent ghostly chiller set in the highlands of Scotland. Unlike the torture porn and shaky found footage horrors seen nowadays, director Lawrie Brewster has taken us back to old skool horror filmmaking, with a film that relies on the art of storytelling shot in a static, steady way. Surprisingly, particular in the horror genre, this style seems to be a rarity these days and its much welcomed by myself as a lover of the format over motion-sickness causing shaky cam.

Written by Metaphorest herself, Sarah Daly, Lord of Tears is a slow-burning tale that will engage you with its friendly frolics and creep you out with its terrifying nightmares, featuring quick edits and extreme closeups depicting murder, insanity and the malignant Owlman.

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The cast may only be small, with three main characters (besides Owlman), but their personalities and stories are each given screen time to be explored. Euan Douglas portrays the protagonist James, who’s quite a delicate, shy man who doesn’t appear to have matured mentally due to his troubled childhood. Ever the gentleman but with no lady or love in his life, James appears to be quite naive and innocent compared to his surroundings. Luckily for him, he meets Evie played by Alexandra ‘Lexy’ Hulme, a full-of-life, sexy young woman who injects a bit of fun and warmth into James’ life during his stay at Baldurrock. Evie entertains James with her seductive dances yet she does so in such an elegant way, like a glamourous star of the 50’s. In later scenes, her talent for footwork and body movement is evident as her body reflects different emotions and creates alternative viewer reactions. It does not surprise that actress Alexandra Hulme is also a professional dancer and choreographer, which makes her the perfect choice for the character of Evie in this spooky film. Heading up the final of three main actors is Jamie Scott Gordon, who stars as Allen, James’ friend and co-worker who James shares his problems and experiences with before and after his trip to Baldurrock, but with his own father in hospital, Allen has other things on his mind. This leaves one question remaining… who is the man behind the Owlman? Well, I’m unsure who’s inside the suit but the maleficent voice belongs to that of actor David Schofield, who’s starred in theatre productions as well as many movies including Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3, An American Werewolf in London and From Hell, just to name a few. His voice helps to bring a sinister, yet intelligent edge to the frightening avian that haunts James in the film.

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Anyone expecting Owlman to be slashing his way through hoardes of victims will be severely disappointed. Instead, Lord of Tears takes a clever route of telling a disturbing ghostly tale, dropping hints throughout until the final reveal, which even then surprises. I’d say if you were a fan of Hammer Horror and films like The Others and The Orphanage – films that tell a good story – then you’ll find lots to enjoy here.

The level of detail in the production of Lord of Tears is admirable, with the sets and location just as important as the characters themselves. Gavin Robertson’s cinematography is stunning, highlighting both the beauty and naturally chilling elements Scotland has to offer. These haunting visuals are displayed over a truly terrifying, gothic score from Andy MacDonald and Craig Sutherland, that adds to the tension and uneasiness, with the viewer expecting the Owlman to strike at any moment.

Creating a mythos of their own whilst blending it with real-life mythology and history, Lawrie Brewster, Sarah Daly and their team have crafted a wonderful classic horror, one that gets under your skin and is not afraid to shock you in the style that The Wicker Man and The Others did so well. Citing H.P. Lovecraft as an inspiration, among others, it is clear the passion and detail which Sarah Daly and Lawrie Brewster have put into the film. Haunting to the core, Lord of Tears is one nightmarish chiller that I can heartily recommend to those who enjoy a good old-fashioned horror.

Whilst I would normally end a review on that note, I have to talk about the packaging for Lord of Tears. Hex Media sent a collectors edition copy of Lord of Tears so that we may review the film in its entirety to show and tell our readers exactly what they’ll get if they buy the film, which is only available physically as a collectors edition – meaning you will always get the full finished product, packed with extras, and not have to debate between a cheaper ‘bare-bones’ copy versus an extras-laden Collector’s Edition.

Okay, so you’re thinking ‘usual big DVD case’ right? Wrong! Whatever you expect of DVD packaging, forget it. Hex Media may have produced an independent movie but their love and passion to give film lovers a product they can treasure forever will blow your mind.  Film fans who purchase a physical copy of Lord of Tears will each receive a parcel, inside which is the Collectors Edition, hand-wrapped using the softest black tissue paper by screenwriter and musician Sarah Daly, and sealed with a feather (from the dreaded Owlman?). If you’re like me, you’ll not want to open something that someone has put so much care into but needs must if we are to gaze upon what is inside. Boy oh boy, will you love what you will behold.

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Unwrapping the black tissue will reveal a stunningly spooky 8 panel package, something you used to see when music artists would produce double disc CDs with their music on (CD’s, you remember those, right?!). On the front is the terrifying images of the Owlman and inside are two discs and a 22 page booklet. The discs comprise of the Lord of Tears DVD and the 21 track film soundtrack on CD. Inside the 22 page booklet are passages relating to the Owlman himself, that will become much clearer once you’ve seen the film. The Collectors Edition is also signed by director Lawrie Brewster and writer Sarah Daly. The level of detail and personal touches that have gone into each Collectors Edition means the owner of a copy of Lord of Tears feels very special indeed. But wait, there’s more! Each owner also receives a 440-page digital book, in PDF or Flash format, detailing the Making-Of the Lord of Tears, packed with interviews, insights, storyboards, scripts and so much more. The Flash version allows you to read the ebook in the style of a proper book with page turns, which is what we recommend, though you must watch the film before reading to avoid spoilers, as its chock full of them! Both the DVD or Blu-Ray, whichever you choose, comes with extras including commentary, trailers, interviews and deleted scenes (though Blu-ray does have a few more). If ever there was a DVD that gave you a bang for your buck, it’s this!

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Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

Lord of Tears is available now from www.lordoftears.com on Collectors Edition DVD and Blu-Ray.

You can also catch a screening of Lord of Tears at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in Whitby on 25th October 2013.

Bat

BatI love prosthetic effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: Silent Hill

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