Martyrs Lane (2021) – Film Review
Director: Ruth Platt
Cast: Kiera Thompson, Denise Gough, Sienna Sayer
By Sarah Morgan
The horror film genre is alive and kicking in the UK – if you need proof, it’s right here in actor-turned-writer and director Ruth Platt’s Martyrs Lane. Backed by Shudder, the streaming service which specialises in scares, as well as the BFI, it’s now heading our way on both DVD and as a download.
Of course, movies are nothing without a decent cast, and Platt has been lucky to find a small team of fine thespians. Look out for double Olivier Award winner Denise Gough, Outlander’s Steven Cree and Bafta winner Anastasia Hille. However, the most crucial parts are played by youngsters Kiera Thompson and Sienna Sayer – they say you should never work with children or animals, but when the kids are as talented as these two, there really isn’t anything to worry about.
Thompson plays Leah, a lonely little girl growing up in a vast, rundown vicarage with her distant mother Sarah (Gough), distracted priest father Thomas (Cree) and often cruel older sister Bee (Hannah Rae), who is about to head off for university. Also hanging around are various members of Thomas’s parish, including Lillian (Hille) who, despite showing kindness to Leah, is seemingly hated by the rest of her family – something the youngster can’t understand.
Leah is tormented by bad dreams, but initially finds solace in a blossoming friendship with a mysterious, nameless child in a white winged dress who visits her at night. The girl doesn’t know her own name, and as time goes on, her presence becomes increasingly unsettling – the fact she appears to know things about Leah and her relatives is odd too.
Platt’s atmospheric ghostly gothic tale explores loss, grief and enduring love. It’s unlikely to leave viewers with nightmares, but it is psychologically disturbing with a palpable sense of foreboding.
Platt certainly has an eye for an image, and is helped throughout by the impressive work of cinematographer Mark Gyori.
The DVD is lacking somewhat in special features, although a short interview with the writer-director does explain a little about her inspirations and how the film was brought to the screen.
• Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
• Interview with Writer/Director Ruth Platt
Martyrs Lane is out on DVD and download now