Sunday, November 10, 2013

Movie Review—Lord of Tears

So, I've helped fund 3 movies so far on Kickstarter. I'll get to reviews of the first two once they're out, but it IS kind of amusing that the one I helped fund most recently is the first one that I've seen. Now, Lord of Tears had a leg up on the others since it was already done and the Kickstarter campaign was mostly to secure distribution and marketing for the movie, but still.

So! As you can see from the pictures, Lord of Tears is about the owlman. But there's quite a bit more going on here than that, and despite how creepy the owlman looks... by the time the movie's over, you realize that it wasn't really about the owlman at all. The movie itself has a pretty simple plot, and it's not going to impress with a huge cast, and the monster doesn't do a lot more than stand around and watch... but as it turns out, when you've got such an incredibly haunting and scenic location to shoot in like the highlands of Scotland, things like plot and cast and super-dynamic monsters aren't all that necessary. Especially when you couple that with an incredibly dream-like style of shooting and then edit the movie so that the whole thing increasingly feels like a strange nightmare.

There's some cool twists to the story as well, one of which I saw coming early (and enjoyed nonetheless) and one of which kinda surprised me in a good way. I'll be somewhat vague about those. The movie's plot, as I mentioned, is pretty simple. A man inherits a house after his mother's suicide—but in her will, she says words to the effect of, "Something at that house drove you crazy and made you almost drown yourself—don't go back there today!"

And so, of course, he goes back there to find out, if he can, what caused him to repress a year or so of memories as a child. Because after that setup, what self-respecting horror movie character WOULDN'T go? (To be fair, the character comments on this in the movie, noting, more or less, "Why would Mom tell me to stay away like that, when she should know a warning like that would only intrigue me all the more?") Of course, once he arrives, he starts having strange dreams and seeing visions of a frightening creature watching him from the the surrounding hills and woods—was an encounter with the owlman what terrified him so as a child?

Or was it something far worse?
A very good reason to turn around and find your way down a different, less horror-filled hallway...

Lord of Tears ...
  • ... is relatively slow paced and deliberate in getting where it wants to go, but it's never once boring to look at. The movie made me want to go visit Scotland!
  • ... gets a lot of mileage out of the owlman suit. It doesn't need to do much but stand there to send chills up the spine, and the scenes where you don't realize immediately that the owlman is in there, watching you, blending in to the background, are pretty effective. Makes you start imagining owlmen in scenes where there aren't any.
  • ... feels like being trapped in a nightmare. Not every part of it makes logical sense, and a fair amount of the imagery  is there only for symbolism and because it just looks creepy.
  • ... uses a large number of public-domain or free sound effects, many of which I've heard a LOT in video games. That's always distracting to me, since those sound effects tend to be overheard a LOT in video games over and over... kinda took me out of the nightmare-induced fugue the movie was putting me in now and then.
  • ... arrived in the best packaging ever—wrapped in black crepe paper, with an owl feather affixed to the front and no other indication as to what was inside. Owlman doesn't need to sign his name to leave his mark!
  • ... incorporates themes of Slenderman and the tones of Lovecraft. No wonder it felt like a nightmare!
  • ... is a refreshing throwback to older British horror movies where mood and tone rule all. Fittingly, the director dedicated the movie to Christopher Lee.
Grade: A–

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