Martyrs Lane is a 2021 British horror film written and directed by Ruth Platt, starring Denise Gough, Steven Cree, Anastasia Hille, Hannah Rae and Kiera Thompson. The film premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival on August 19, 2021 and was released on Shudder on September 9, 2021.
The film follows Leah (Thompson), a 10-year-old girl who lives in a large vicarage with her parents (Gough and Cree) and her older sister (Rae). Leah feels neglected by her mother, who is distant and cold towards her, and struggles to fit in with the other children at school. She also suffers from nightmares that haunt her every night. One night, she is visited by a mysterious girl (Sayer) who claims to be her guardian angel and offers her clues to a secret that will change her life forever.
Martyrs Lane is a slow-burning ghost story that explores themes of grief, guilt, faith and family. The film relies on atmosphere and mood rather than jump scares or gore to create tension and horror. The film also features a strong performance by Thompson, who carries the film with her innocence and curiosity. The film has received positive reviews from critics, who praised its emotional depth, direction and acting.
Martyrs Lane is a film that will appeal to fans of horror films that focus on character development and psychological horror rather than cheap thrills. The film is a touching and tragic exploration of how the past can haunt the present and how secrets can tear families apart.
The mysterious girl who visits Leah every night is named Rachel (Sayer), and she claims to be Leah’s guardian angel. She tells Leah that she can help her understand her mother better and make her love her more. She gives Leah clues to find hidden objects around the house that belong to Rachel, such as a dice, a locket, a book and a dress. Leah soon realizes that Rachel is not a stranger, but her older sister who died in a car accident before Leah was born.
Leah’s mother Sarah (Gough) has never recovered from the loss of Rachel, and blames herself for the accident. She keeps Rachel’s belongings in a locked room and wears her locket with her hair inside. She is unable to bond with Leah, who reminds her of Rachel, and treats her coldly and harshly. Leah’s father Thomas (Cree) is a vicar who tries to comfort Sarah and Leah, but is also struggling with his own grief and faith. Leah’s sister Bex (Rae) is rebellious and resentful of Leah, who gets more attention from their parents.
As Leah learns more about Rachel and her mother’s past, she also starts to see visions of the car accident and the aftermath. She realizes that Rachel is not a friendly angel, but a vengeful spirit who wants to take Leah’s place in the family. Rachel tries to convince Leah that her mother hates her and wants to get rid of her. She also tries to harm Leah physically and emotionally, by cutting her hair, burning her dress, locking her in the attic and making her doubt her father’s love.
Leah decides to confront Rachel and tell her to leave her alone. She also confronts her mother and tells her that she knows about Rachel and that she loves her. Sarah breaks down and admits that she loves Leah too, but she has been unable to show it because of her guilt and pain. She apologizes to Leah for being a bad mother and asks for forgiveness. Leah forgives her and hugs her.
Rachel appears one last time and tells Leah that she is sorry for hurting her. She says that she was angry and lonely, but now she is ready to move on. She gives Leah her wings as a gift and says goodbye. Leah watches as Rachel fades away into the light.
The film ends with Leah wearing Rachel’s wings and playing with her family in the garden. Sarah smiles and hugs Leah, while Thomas takes a picture of them. Bex joins them and they all pose happily for the camera.