Martyrs Lane Review: The Horrors of Tragedy from a Child’s POV

Cass review’s Shudder’s new horror film “Martyrs Lane”.

Have you ever watched a horror movie and ended up feeling more sad than scared? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me after watching Ruth Platt’s new movie, Martyrs Lane  (and I mean this in the best way possible). 

Martrys Lane tells the story of Leah, the daughter of a pastor who lives in a vicarage where people are always going when looking for help. One night, after losing something important to her mother, Leah is visited by a girl, just around her age, that might help her find that which she lost. As Leah and her new friend start to get to know each other, things start to go wrong in Leah’s household, and she starts learning some very dangerous information. 

Kiera Thompson as Leah – Martyr’s Lane, Photo Credit: Shudder

At first glance, Martyrs Lane might seem like just another movie about creepy children, but it’s more than that. At its core, this is the story of Leah, and the movie does a fantastic job of showing this. Every scene is told through Leah’s point of view which makes the viewer see the story through the eyes of childhood curiosity, fear and (maybe most importantly) intelligence. Unlike most horror movies, this film doesn’t reduce Leah to the dumb kid archetype, instead we see in Leah a smart and curious kid who is somewhat aware of what is happening around her. This decision works really well because it makes the flow of the narrative a lot more believable, and therefore enjoyable.

One thing that sure makes Leah a great character is Kiera Thompson’s acting which is pleasantly surprising. Throughout the movie, she gives a performance that makes Leah a relatable character, especially through her reactions to each of the different events that transpire through the movie . Her interactions with Sienna Sayer (who plays the mysterious visitor) are some of the best things in the movie. 

Denise Gough as Sarah, Kiera Thompson as Leah – Martyr’s Lane, Photo Credit: Shudder

What I liked most about the movie was the fact that the movie completely understood what type of movie it is. Most horror movies that have a tragedy in the center of them shy away from the sadness and the emotional beats, but Martrys Lane doesn’t. It keeps its emotions at the center of it, giving the characters space to grow and develop. The ending (of which I will try to say the least amount possible) really hits you with the sadness of it all, instead of a few jumpscares and some shocking scenes, making the experience feel unique. 

I really liked this movie, but unfortunately it still falls into some of the cliches of the modern horror movie, especially with Sienna Sayer’s character. At times, this mysterious kid feels like a good and interesting character, but other times it feels like your generic yellow eye creepy child, especially in scenes the movie is trying to be “shocking” scary, and not “slow burn” scary, which works better for the tone and the story. Also, this might be a personal pet peeve, but I’m so tired of children having unspecific health problems just to raise the tension and the stakes (to be fair this movie justifies it a bit, but still). It just feels lazy and unoriginal. 

Denise Gough as Sarah – Martyr’s Lane: Photo Credit: Shudder

All and all, I enjoyed Martyrs Lane a lot more than what I expected. Instead of the creepy kid jump scare fest I thought I was going to get, I got a slow burn horror movie with a creepy atmosphere and a story of grief at its core, which made me feel a lot more feelings than a ghost story has any right to. I heartily recommend this movie, especially for those who want a more emotional and tragic horror story this fall.

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