James Findlay is suffering from horrible visions of a strange figure - visions that began at a young age. After the death of his mother, his visions come back at full force. To finally deal with the visions he decides to travel back to his childhood home and look into his past and how it might connect to the things he sees.
The "Lord of Tears" team might be some of the smartest crowdfunders in horror recently, basically giving horror fans exactly what they want to see with their teasing. They doubled their goal and then some, and it's not a surprise when their main teaser was the image of a slenderman-like figure in Victorian clothing, an owl head and long freakish fingers/claws. It's what children's and adult's nightmares alike are made of. And now it is time for this gothic and poetic horror movie to reach its anticipating audience and reviewers.
It tells the classic tale of a troubled man returning to his past to find answers. James Findlay is a school teacher who has been suffering from nightmares of a figure we've come to know as the "Owlman". As I said before, a well-dressed human-like figure with an owl's head and long claws for fingers. This is a vision that's been haunting him since his childhood, but that he has finally put to rest. When his mother dies the Owlman returns to his dreams, and James sets out to get rid of his nightmares once and for all - by returning to his childhood's home where the nightmares started. At his return he meets a woman who he starts hanging out with to keep his sanity, while he investigates the history of the house and what happened to him in the past.
The movie does where its influences and inspirations on its sleeve, and sometimes even in the plot. History, religion, ghost stories and authors like Lovecraft, Hammer horror movies, Japanese horror, and so forth is very much all of the "Lord of Tears". And not in a bad way, it successfully uses what it needs to tell an atmospheric story. Except maybe the Japanese horror aspect, especially aesthetically and in the editing in certain parts - that might be one of the low points of the movie for me. It's actually a quite specific moment where you get a sense of that kicking in, and that's also when I think the movie went slightly downhill.
The build-up of this movie is very long but it also has to introduce you to a number of characters, its main location, much of the lore without spoiling anything, and so on. In true classic horror fashion it knows that you need to be aware of what you are watching before it brings out the big guns - or the big owl. The gothic Hammer horror atmosphere might be the strongest influence, which comes free with the territory by its location, telling a ghost story and using history and religion to do so. It's a movie that heavily relies on its backstory and they successfully build an interesting lore. The atmosphere is really strong within this movie, but I don't think it delivered any actual scares. Its iconic Owlman is a great character and many of the shots are fantastic, but I had hopes for a figure that would haunt me long after the movie ended. The Owlman didn't end up feeling like a villain as much as the one to guide James. Nothing wrong with that, and not necessarily a bad thing, but not quite what I thought I'd get whenever I looked at the terrific design of the character. What Owlman lacked in scares for me, I think it made up in purpose towards the end.
"Lord of Tears" has a familiar story and quite often you can predict what's about to happen, but when things come full circle at the end you're definitely pleased with the experience. It has a few bumps on the road, such as the Japanese horror inspired part later in the movie (at least this was the case for me). But between the location, the soundtrack and the Owlman, this is a movie that's packed with atmosphere and well worth a watch. A lot of independent productions lack atmosphere and I think that's the main force of this one. It's a good watch, but personally it's not something I will revisit any time soon. Definitely worth buying and hopefully it will deliver more chills and scares to someone else, but either way it delivers a well-rounded and personal story that many horror fans will love.