Martyrs Lane is an emotionally powerful ghost story that will catch audiences off guard with how moving it ends up being. The film is about a young girl named Leah (Kiera Thompson) who becomes friends with a mysterious visitor (Sienna Sayer) who claims she can help Leah’s relationship with her mother. Each night the meet, they play a game with increasingly dangerous challenges that seem to be leading Leah closer to the truth.
The film’s story unravels differently than other tales of ghosts. Usually, the plot will feed the audience clues leading to the reveal. Martyrs Lane keeps anyone watching on the hook until the closing moments. It still provides hints as to what is going on, but it is never enough to where anyone can guess what is happening before the movie want them to. This is a great technique that keeps engagement high the entire time. There have been so many ghost stories that it is hard to keep people intrigued and unsure the entire time, but this one does just that.
Helping matters is a climax that plays into the emotional tale Martyrs Lane has told. As the veil is lifted over Leah’s eyes, there is a definite sense of uncertainty. It is a nice touch that makes the last moments impossible to look away from. Adding to it all, is Leah’s childhood innocence. The answer is almost too easy for her. There is also a nice twist on the story being told. The ghostly visitor’s intentions are rooted in an emotion that makes sense and makes the whole ordeal more terrifying.
The movie builds an excellent atmosphere from its opening moments. Things have a dreamlike feel to them and everything seems hazy and unclear. Much like the relationship between Leah and her family, things just seem a little off. This also adds to the fear and tension in Martyrs Lane. There are some great jump scares and it always seems like someone is watching in the background.
Martyrs Lane has an interesting tone. Initially, it is a family drama. Leah gets along well with her father, but it seems like there is a disconnect between her, her mother, and her older sister. As the plot progresses, it slowly morphs into a mystery until finally becoming a full blown horror. It sounds like it should be jarring, but the excellent writing makes the whole film flow effortlessly.
The final moments are a moving series of scenes that showcase the love and grief the entire family feels. These are some of the most powerful moments of the entire film and will intentionally leave the audience with questions. An atmospheric ghost story that deals with themes of loss and love, Martyrs Lane is a wonderful addition to the library of forlorn ghost tales.
Martyrs Lane comes to Shudder September 9
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