Martyrs Lane: Review

Martyrs Lane - Review

★★★★☆

Wee Leah lives in the vicarage because, unsurprisingly, her father is a vicar, and a kind one at that. Her mother seems to be troubled by something that becomes decreasingly ambiguous over the course of the film, and her older sister is generally cruel to her. So obviously things are looking up for her when she makes a new, mysterious friend, who looks like an angel – well, maybe more of a cherub, she’s only Leah’s age – poses riddles in the form of a “two truths, one lie” guessing game, and like Rumpelstiltskin, won’t outright tell Leah her name, and wants her to puzzle it out through several, well, glorified Easter egg hunts.

But is Leah’s new friend all she seems? Well, no, obviously not, partly because of all her strange behaviour as mentioned above, and partly because Martyrs Lane is a Shudder original – Shudder being the streaming service that offers (almost) nothing but horror, and which has already produced a number of fine original horrors. Martyrs Lane can proudly join those ranks, with its atmosphere of loneliness and tragedy, oddly uplifting moments, and most of all its sensitive and touching portrayal of a friendship – or is it? No spoilers here! – between two little girls who, frankly, are much too young to have any business giving the intelligent and empathetic performances that they demonstrate here. Kiera Thompson, as Leah, is especially impressive, and should be booked up quickly by any producer who has a script with a little girl in it.

The other performances seen here are solid enough to keep the film going when required to, and in most cases aren’t particularly important anyway, since the script focuses so heavily on Leah and the other girl. Some may find the film’s measured pace frustrating, but it’s worth going in knowing that this isn’t slick, slam-bang horror; in fact, I’m not even sure it’s strictly horror at all, and the only serious flaw the film has is a sequence towards the end in which it tries to emulate precisely that type of film.

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