Martyrs

"OK"

Martyrs Review


There has been a tremendous wave of buzz leading up to the U.S. release of Pascal Laugier's punishing Martyrs. Film festival reviews (it was nominated for Best Film at Sitges) were careful to give only vague outlines of the film's plot. People were whispering in chat rooms and on forums about the film's mind-shattering ending. The picture was hailed as visionary and ferocious and was seen by many as attaining that quasi-mystical state of horror film perfection. Some would even go so far as to say it was the ultimate extreme in horror cinema. Well, Martyrs is here and while it certainly is unique in some aspects, it's not the fabled ultimate horror film. The definitive "torture porn" flick, maybe, though I'm sure the film's fans would disagree.

Following in the bloody footsteps of Hostel, Martyrs opens with a young girl escaping the confines of a dank torture dungeon and only gets darker from there. This girl, Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï) is sent to an orphanage where she is looked after by the mothering Anna (Morjana Alaoui). While Lucie does not speak about her torment at the hands of unknown assailants, she does tell Anna about someone still hurting her: a ghostly contortionist (in the latexy Japanese horror mode) who slices and dices with wild abandon. Fifteen years later, Lucie's nighttime terrors continue but she and Anna have managed to track down Lucie's original tormentors (a seemingly nice suburban couple with two teenage children). After blowing them all away with a shotgun, Lucie's undead bruiser reappears and a life and death struggle ensues with Lucie at the losing end. Distraught, Anna stays at the house and uncovers a hidden subterranean laboratory with a current resident and a terrible secret.

Like a well-shot Twilight Zone episode with tons more nudity and graphic violence, Martyrs has one of those twist endings that actually surprises and makes the 85 preceding minutes of gruesomeness at least worth fast-forwarding through. That being said, there is truly nothing Earth-shattering on display here; the ending comes out of left field and is intriguing but can't possibly live up to the mystery the film sets up. Outside of the ending, the rest of the picture is literally torture: lots of naked flesh and lots of bruising and blood. It seems the recent wave of French horror filmmakers (among them Aja (Haute Tension) and Bustillo & Maury (À L'Intérieur)) have taken David Cronenberg's "body horror" manifesto to it's extreme, literally punishing their actors with legions of razorblades, scalpels, and scissors.

Much of Martyrs depends on the convincing performances by the lead women and they carry out their orders like Olympians. The amount of physical suffering on display here is truly mind-boggling and I can only imagine what the therapy bills looked like when filming was completed. The movie has an explanation as to why the victims are all (or always) female, but the context is superfluous: women are always the sufferers in movies like these. (I recommend Carol J. Clover's brilliant Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film as to why this is the case.)

While it certainly won't be forgotten, Laugier's film is ultimately a very off-putting one-trick pony. Like one of those cartoon mousetraps that has all sorts of extraneous gears and gizmos, most of Martyrs' running time exists only to get to the final big twist. And after you've seen it, well, there's no pointing in suffering through it again. It's just a mousetrap after all.



Martyrs

Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd September 2008

Budget: $4.4M

Distributed by: Bir Film

Production compaines: TCB Films, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Canal Horizons

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Pascal Laugier

Producer: Richard Granspierre, Simon Trottier

Starring: as Lucie, Morjana Alaoui as Anna, Mike Chute as Bourreau, Catherine Bégin as Mademoiselle, Robert Toupin as Le Père, Patricia Tulasne as La Mère, Juliette Gosselin as Marie, Anie Pascale as La Femme

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.