Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Martyrs (2008)

Fear 5/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5
Jesus H., what the hell is in the water in France? I'm oblivious to cultural politics and goings on but I'm starting to think that maybe they must be going through some sort of awakening. Being at the epicenter of some of the best metal released within the last 5 years (see here and here) along with some of the most terrifying horror movies (mira), France seems to have come completely out of left field. For a country high on keeping its culture pure and without a lot of western influence (most oftentimes at the expense of coming across as snooty and self-righteous), they sure are churning out some of the most brutal music and films that have assailed my sensories.
Martyrs centers on a girl who's escaped an abondoned factory that's been converted into a torture chamber for young women. She escapes her captors and comes across an orphanage. The proprietors take her in and she quickly becomes friends with another girl. They grow up together in the orphanage, promising to always remain friends and stick together.
Fast forward about 10 years or so, and the girls have grown up and left the orphanage. The girl who was held captive in the old factory has vowed to seek revenge on her captors and her friend agrees to help her carry out her mission. Only she doesn't think she will go through with it.
The former captive finds the family who was responsible for torturing herself and other young girls. As the family is enjoying breakfast, she enters the house with a double barreled shot gun and opens fire. An absolutely brutal scene ensues in which mom and dad get it along with their teenage son and young daughter.
The girl who has sought revenge takes her own life as her friend who doubts her comes to the home and questions her reasons for killing the family. Because of her already weakened mental state, she offs herself as her friend persistently question her reasonings. She believes her vendetta is unfounded and most of what she clings to isn't real and that she's completely wacko.
So now the friend is left in the house, full of corpses and now trying to figure a way out of the mess. She stumbles upon a bookcase in the house that slides away from the wall and a passageway that leads to an underground area of the home. She discovers that her friend was right all along as she comes across another woman who has been severly beaten and chained together with a mask that is stapled to her head.
As she attempts to rescue the woman, the house is invaded by a group of heavily armed men. An old woman then closes in behind the group. The rescued woman is promptly shot in the head and the other is lead back down to the chamber of horrors under the house. We come to find out why these women have been held captive and why this old woman leads her group in torturing and brutally maiming women in some of the most horrific and agonizing ways imaginable. This revelation is all too shocking and gut punching. I can't imagine that it didn't piss off a lot of religious types. And do you know what the best part of it is? You don't see it coming, not for a second. If you do, then you must have some psychic powers and I demand that you tell me this week's winning Lotto numbers.
Some of the comparisons I've read to Hostel are wholly inaccurate. Whereas Hostel had no other purpose but to be an all out gorefest and mostly pointless affair, Martyrs actually has a method to its madness. And again, when you find out the reason behind the tortures the impact is much more lasting than that of any torture related film I've ever seen. Score another one for the Frenchies.
Cortez the Killer
* * * *
As expected, my opinion differ's from Cortez's.
Comparisons to Hostel are actually not that inaccurate. Martyrs, despite it's somewhat philosophical ending, is basically torture porn ala Hostel. And, actually, I found Hostel to be a much more interesting movie if only because it had a narrative to it whereas Martyrs spends a full 25 minutes on nothing but kicking a girl's ass over and over and over. I get it. She's being tortured. So am I. Boring.
The biggest flaw - and it's a big flaw - is howI found myself saying over and over again "why are you doing that?" "Why aren't you doing this?" For horror to work ("work") you have to buy into the scenario. So when the girl comes in and knocks off the family, spending the next three days at the crime scene is not only absolutely retarded, it's remarkably annoying as any sane and smart person would be asking WHY. And from this point the film spirals out of control into a series of dumb-fuckery that completely ruins the film: "Oh, the sledgehammer I used to bludgeon this lady just disappeared into a hole in the wall. Since I've been sleeping in this house now for 5 fucking days, I might as well see where it went. Oh look, a secret door that leads into an underground bunker filled with computers, cells and creepy photos of dead people. I'd better investigate before the cops arrive. It has been, after all, 5 days. Hmmm, a locked trapdoor. I suppose I have to beat the lock off and climb down...." I mean for fucks sake. The whole premise is beyond implausible.
Towards the end I found myself so bored that I was MST3K'ing the movie to amuse myself.
I am not impressed.
- Complaint Department


Al Bruno III said...

As always a great review... I saw this film over the weekend and it is still hauntng me... not the gore but the story is doing the haunting...

Planet of Terror said...

And that's what makes this movie so compelling. The gore is definitely there in spades but its the story and slap to the face reveal at the end that makes this so terrifying. Thanks for reading!

monsterscholar said...

Is the revelation that God told her to do it?
I'm renting this flick soon. From what I've heard, I agree that comparisons of this film to Hostel I and II are unwarranted. Hostel II does have something to say but it's not very positive. I wonder how Martyrs will be different.

Planet of Terror said...

Very close but not quite. You'll just have to see. Absolutely brilliant.

Complaint Dept said...

According to the Internet: "Pascal Laugier has confirmed in an interview that he is currently in the middle of negotiating the rights for Martyrs to be remade in America". That should make your day.

Cortez the Killer said...

I don't see how an American remake works without a drastic re-write of the script. As it stands, the French version surely had to of pissed off a few hardcore religious types.