The third feature from British filmmaker Ruth Platt, and the feature adaptation of her short by the same name, MARTYRS LANE is a captivating ghost story fairy tale centered on young Leah, the daughter of a vicar, and the mysterious visitor that comes to her room every night with gifts and riddles. A rare film where the children actors not only shine but also bring a complex and nuanced performance to their challenging, leading roles.
Directed and written by Ruth Platt. Ruth Platt’s film Martyrs Lane is playing at the Fantasia Film Festival 2021. Martyrs Lane opens with Leah (Kiera Thompson) having a horrible nightmare. Leah is walking home and she’s followed by her sister Bex (Hannah Rae) and Brian (Charlie Rix). They are an obnoxious duo. The shots and scenes are beautiful. I love the middle of the road/ forest shot. It makes you feel like you’re there. It’s so eerie and uncomfortable. Sarah (Denise Gough) is Leah’s mom. Leah heads to church, she is distracted by voices and more. We meet Father Thomas (Steven Cree).
The house in the movie is beautiful. It’s becoming a character in the film. It’s strange when you think about going to sleep at night. (With the exceptions of the people that work at night and the insomniacs of the world.)
When you are downstairs or in your living room, or whatever space you spend time in during the day, you are busy and working or doing stuff. Then night time comes and you go to bed. Some of us spend time with our not-so-welcome thoughts. Leah is at church and seems okay, she is fascinated by the locket her mother wears. Leah took out what was in the locket and then sneakily returned it to her mother. Leah is almost like a little ghost wondering around her own house. Her mother seems constantly stressed and freaked out. Bex takes Leah out and tells her stories. Something or someone is in the woods. The little girl Leah saw in the woods shows up at her house in the middle of the night.
The little girl doesn’t know if she’s lost or missing? She could be a ghost or an imaginary friend? Leah is also still trying to find what was inside her mother’s locket. Her mother wakes up, and she also seems to be seeing things. Edith (Catherine Terris) shows up to the house in the middle of the night. She wants a blessing from Father Thomas. Oh my gosh, the upside-down wake-up scene is creepy. Leah shows kindness and love towards her mother but the mother acts almost frightened of Leah sometimes.
The strangers and people that visit the house seem nicer to Leah. It’s heartbreaking. This cast does a good job with playing these characters. Leah has a small collection of things she found in the woods or on walks. She is also finding letter beads for bracelets. She is up again in the middle of the night. Thomas explains a lot to Leah in regards to heaven and hell. I think everyone has a version of heaven and hell. I think everyone has a beautiful version and a horrific version of heaven and hell. Leah’s mother, Sarah (Denise Gough) acts so disconnected towards Leah. Sarah wants to know why Leah wanders around the house at night. She finds various little things that go with her mother’s stuff.
The little girl shows up again and she’s not happy because Leah is nervous and she sees the little girl in a different way now. It’s a beautiful ghost story. Nightmares, night terrors, dealing with the darkness and when you cannot sleep, it’s horrible at night. I feel bad for this kid, she keeps seeing and finding this horrible stuff. She also keeps finding the letter beads. Parents that blame children or torment children, it’s horrible. People often think kids don’t understand, that they don’t know what’s happening, trust and believe they know.
There is a lot of torment as a kid and then you grow up and have to fix it and deal with it. I’m wondering if this kid that visits Leah is the mother’s kid or a sister? The visiting kid heads a strange warning to Leah.
I think Leah has had enough. We learn about Martyrs Lane and what it is. Bex finds Leah and helps her after Leah is out wondering again. Bex is concerned about Leah now. Oh no, Thomas is leaving for the night. This is nerve-wracking. This is such a beautiful sad movie. It’s creepy and eerie with such a twist. Ruth Platt delivered such a heartbreaking story with a twist. She wrote an intense story. It’s about darkness, and healing. It’s sad and there is love and life. Make sure to check out Martyrs Lane and the Fantasia Film Festival 2021.