Martyrs (2008)


Directed by Pascal Laugier
Starring Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï

Wow, just got done watching this one and it is…intense. Like with my Cannibal Holocaust review, I recommend this film only to horror fan aficionado who feels they’ve seen it all. This is not for the faint of heart and will more than likely offend or scar you. In many screenings, vomiting and fainting has been reported. That said, let’s jump in.

Martyrs is divided into three acts which stand in stark contrast to one another. The first follows a young girl’s path of revenge against the people who kidnapped and tortured her and the demons she faces out of her past. This plays like your standard horror fare, but technically competant and successful in its scares, harkening back to the original Grudge. A satisfying resolution leaves the viewer wondering where the film willl go next. The next act follows her friend’s exploration of the girl’s past, at which point the film descends into sickening dread and revulsion. Without going into too much detail, the third act, punctuated by an unnecessary expositional scene, locks the viewer in the room with its victim and subjects them to a transcendant level of torture imagery. An ambiguous conclusion lends less of an explanation and more of an excuse for the violent extremes explored.

Having a similar opinion to British film reviewer Mark Kermode about horror being the last genre to push the art form that is film, I think this is worthy of a viewing. Is it torture porn? Yes. Is it expoitational? Some argue no, I say yes. But for the structure and cinematic crafting of sound, image, and effects to create an experience you cannot ignore, this film accomplishes its task. Much like Noe’s Irreverisble, this is one film that will stick with you and probably alter your psyche a bit. It’s rumored the director has been tapped to remake both this film and Hellraiser.

You’re not gonna like what you see. Or maybe you will, sicko.

Also by this director: Saint Ange (2004)

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