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Martyrs Lane (2021)
Martyrs Lane is a 2021 British horror film written and directed by Ruth Platt, produced by Christine Alderson and Katie Hodgkin and starring Denise Gough, Steven Cree, Anastasia Hille, Hannah Rae and Kiera Thompson.
- Denise Gough as Sarah
- Steven Cree as Thomas
- Anastasia Hille as Lillian
- Hannah Rae as Bex
- Kiera Thompson as Leah
- Denise Gough
- Steven Cree
- Anastasia Hille
- Hannah Rae
- Kiera Thompson
British Film Institute
Ipso Facto Productions
||Shudder (United States)
LevelK (Rest of the world)
- August 19, 2021 (Fantasia International Film Festival)
- September 9, 2021 (United States)
Martyrs Lane (2021) Movie Review
The whimsical ghost story “Martyrs Lane” follows around a young girl named Leah, who is ten years old. She is played by Kiera Thompson, and she is the star of the film. The camera is often close to her face, or is low to the ground, as she navigates the adult and family business that she seems shut out of. At home, her mother is emotional and short-tempered, which leads to Leah having jump-scare nightmares about seeing her mother Sarah (Denise Gough) in bed. The environment has also affected her older sister Bex (Hannah Rae), who sometimes torments Leah as siblings do, but also seems to have her own tension with the family. The father (Steven Cree), a religious figure named Thomas, continues to go inward with spirituality. All the while there’s a great deal of sunlight in their family kitchen, when everyone does get together. But there is a vacancy.
Leah’s fascination with and fear of her mother’s sadness leads her to inspect the locket that her mother carries around, and to take hold of the hair curl inside. It set the story off, starting with Sarah spiraling even more. “Martyrs Lane” balances these two elements—Leah’s slow understanding, and a growing sense of her mother’s devastating secret pain—to create a sentimental horror movie that strives for gutrenching emotional displays that become evident from the strong performance in particular by Denise Gough (whose electric work is almost cheated by the film’s limited POV and even more narrow plotting). For better and for worse, “Martyrs Lane” is deeply invested in the innocence of a child’s understanding about death, along with the horror of seeing them put into dangerous situations either physical or supernatural.There’s something, or someone, that the family isn’t talking about, and RuthPlatt’s emotional fairy tale tracks this girl’s understanding of a type of trauma. In this case, it comes in the guise of another girl (SiennaSayer), who appears at Leah’s bedroom window on some nights, with angel wings attached. (She says they’re a costume, but that she’s growing real ones, too.) The angel girl and Leah have odd conversations, often ending with Leah being told where to find a mystery item that will help her understand everything that is going on. Platt plays the moments with a dryness, and trusts in the acting of her young stars, earning hit-and-miss success in the process. Thompson is strong at creating a growing sense of stress for her lead character, how it makes her timid, and makes each gradual scene seem like there’s even more pressure on her tiny shoulders.
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