Martyrs will stay with you long after the credits roll. I remember when I first watched the film...I was completely unprepared for the experience I was about to undertake. It's exhausting...in a disturbing way. You feel as if you are literally being scarred while watching this film.
Ok...let's back up a little bit.
Martyrs is a horror film that you haven't seen before. It stands as a landmark from French filmmaker Pascal Laugier. It is shot beautifully and shows quite a bit of artistry in it. The main issue that is often brought into conversation concerning the film is the subject matter within. Martyrs is so complex that it would seriously take a thesis to scratch the surface of spoiling any of the details concerning the main plot. It's basically a revenge flick for the first act then switches over into something completely different in the second act. It's French w/ English subtitles...but, it has a decent English-dubbed version on it as well...I don't think this is one of those movies that you could watch with subtitles the first time around as there is just so much going on.
Martyrs is so brutal and unrelenting in its torture and horror...it makes the Hostel films and the Saw films look like a fuckin' Chuck E. Cheese presentation. It's got a couple strong female leads that basically carry the film and lead you through a mindfuck of a film. Perhaps the best ambiguous description of the plot I can give you is the one pulled off of the IMDB website for the film:
"A young woman's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity."
Poor Lucie and Anna...they know not what is in store for them. Neither, for that matter, do we. We are just the innocent viewer pulled into this harrowing experience. An experience unlike any other cinematic one. Laugier is a film maker to watch in the coming years as he weaves several conventional ideas into one original presentation.
Martyrs is not for the meek. It is a film that is hard to swallow, so I would suggest that you watch it at your own risk. If you are the squeamish type...this film may not be for you. However, for the rest of us...it is a film that asks several intelligent questions while knowing full well that these questions don't always have answers. It's more content provoking thought...than it is explaining the sum of its parts for you.
Nothing is like Martyrs. While there exists several of the usual horror film tropes within...ultimately, Martyrs is an exercise in tolerance and intelligent film making. It will haunt you if you do choose to take the journey this Halloween season...just don't say we didn't warn you.
4.5 out of 5
Thanks for reading,