Focus on Fantasia 2021: MARTYRS LANE

Our ‘Focus on Fantasia 2021’ series takes a look at some of the terrific horror films coming to this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. Today we focus on one of the festival’s Virtual Screening titles, “Martyrs Lane.”

“Just as a child’s perception can magnify and amplify certain aspects of life that adults may not see, I hope this film can amplify aspects of the ordinary human experience that bind us. The family relationships that can hurt or nurture us, and shape us into the adults that we become, the small but devastating slow-burn destruction of unprocessed grief, the way ghosts are like children – their anger is a desire to be heard, to be seen, when adults want them to be silent, to be invisible – the way suppression of pain always forces a reckoning eventually. I hope this film has something interesting to say about those aspects of the human experience, and I hope MARTYRS LANE contributes something unique to the ghost story/supernatural fiction genre – a form of literature and cinema that I dearly love.” – Writer/Director Ruth Platt

Young Leah (Kiera Thompson) lives in a vicarage with her family. It’s a busy environment during the days, buzzing with people and activity. At night, it becomes an entirely other place. Dimly lit, deathly quiet, empty, large spaces filled with melancholic energies. Every now and then, Leah’s awoken by her mother’s screams, echoes of unspoken traumas that continue to breathe inside her. Leah’s been trying to connect with her better, but she knows that something unnameable stands between them. One night, a spectral child (Sienna Sayer) appears at her window. Fragile, inquisitive, bearing feathered wings on her back. They form a friendship and the visits become regular. A game is initiated, where Leah is given a nightly task, each bringing new layers of perilous understanding. Of herself, of her mother, and of the dark things that separate them.

The third feature from gifted British filmmaker Ruth Platt, following THE LESSON and THE BLACK FOREST, MARTYRS LANE is a remarkable genre achievement told from a child’s point of view, the audience left to assemble its world through the information that Leah picks up. While it’s very much a ghost story, it further addresses grief as a haunting itself, a permeating, perspective-shifting energy that echoes through our interior spaces. Platt has stated that much of the film is informed by her own experience of family trauma and childhood fears, with elements of her childhood along with that of her mother’s, and aspects of her own fears as both child and adult, as a daughter and as a mother. A deeply personal vision channelled with phenomenal scripting, direction and performances, MARTYRS LANE is a ghost story that haunts, a heartbreaking fairy tale that whispers its truths in tears and blood. – Mitch Davis

DIRECTOR: Ruth Platt

WRITER: Ruth Platt

CAST: Denise Gough, Sienna Sayer, Kiera Thompson

PRODUCER: Christine Alderson, Katie Hodgkin


EDITOR: Chris Barwell

Virtual Screenings Aug 19 & Aug 21

Fantasia International Film Festival Aug. 5 – Aug. 25

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