Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Either Just Got Raped .....

or I just watched Martyrs ...... i'm still not sure ......


If you thought recent French horror wave flicks like Inside and Frontier(s) were brutal and unrelenting, you aint seen nothin yet! You know how with most movies you kinda know what's going to happen or at least know what could and could not possibly happen? This is not one of those movies. It goes to places one could never dream of it going and it's just about the most unpredictable and disturbing film I have ever seen. There is not a single laugh. There is not a single light or fun moment. The gore is not glorified or exciting. It's a terrifying, sickening, disgusting, powerful, dangerous, gory, maddening, and perhaps even beautiful (?) descent into the deepest and darkest recesses of the human condition from the first to the last frame. NOT FOR THE WEAK OF HEART!

"Disturbing people when you make horror is like a supreme reward." - Pascal Laugier, director of Martyrs, from a recent Fangoria interview.

Not since Irreversible have I seen a movie that has so disturbed me as Martyrs. That's what Laugier was going for and no one can say that's not precisely what he achieved. And for that, I must applaud the man. I am not easily disturbed or repulsed by movies, but this one sure as shit brought me to that level. But make no mistake. This isn't one of those mindless gore fest movies that are disturbing merely for the sake of being disturbing. It's got a purpose and it's got meaning. That being said, i'm still not entirely sure what to make of the movie as a whole and i'm not even sure whether I liked it (definetly liked the first half better than the second) or could recommend it to anyone, but it's certaintly going to be on my mind for many days to come and I guess that's saying something pretty profound.

I don't really want to say too much because I don't want to spoil anything and in fact I really don't think you should even watch the trailer or read the plot description before you watch the movie. I think it's one of those movies that's best to watch without really knowing or reading anything about it, but i'll give you a brief plot description just so you kinda know what the basis for the story is. I will choose my words carefully ....

The film opens with a young girl, Lucie, running for her life from a building. She's beaten up real bad and she's clearly just been through some kind of horrific torture. She ends up in a youth home where she befriends another young girl by the name of Anna, and she's plagued by visions of a demonic creature. Fast forward to fifteen years later. All hell is about to break loose for both Lucie and Anna.

And that's quite frankly all i'm at liberty to say. That's about all I knew before heading into the movie and i'm glad for it. All I can really say is, without question, see the movie for yourself. It's certaintly not for everyone but I think every genre fan at least needs to see it. One thing is for sure ; whether you love the movie or are completely disgusted and turned off by it, it will get you talking, it will get you thinking, and it will leave a mark on you. It comes out on uncut DVD April 28th. Mark that date on your calendar and give it a rent as soon as possible. Click THIS link to instantly add it to your Netflix queue.

If you've seen the movie, leave a comment with your thoughts as i'd love to discuss it more in depth and not have to worry about spoilers.

Pascal Laugier will next be writing and directing the Hellraiser remake, which leads me to to believe that that's gonna be one hell of a movie. Being that Hellraiser deals with many of the same themes and ideas as Martyrs, I think Laugier is the perfect fit for the redux. Cannot wait to see what he comes up with.

One last thing ..... Rest In Peace to Benoit Lestang, the makeup artist who's amazing work is on display in Martyrs. Lestang committed suicide last July, making this his last film. He also worked on the flicks The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Brotherhood of the Wolf, and The City of Lost Children. Without his awesome work, this movie would not be nearly as effective as it is.


Bar said...


Didn't read the write up coz i wanted to avoid any possible spoilers, so sorry if you already asnwered this, but...

Where the hell did you see it? I've been waiting FOREVER for this to come out over there so I can import it, and if i'm not mistaken, there's still a month or so to go...

Johnny said...

Spoiler free!

Drop me an Email -

Bjornabo said...

Martys will be released on DVD in The UK the 25/05-09.. And here in Norway the Cinema Release date is in July!!!

And on another note: My local cinema showed "Let The Right One In" for the first time 3 days ago!!!

And people wonder why I order my movies from the US or UK!!

It looks pretty good thought..Looking forward to seeing it.

thebonebreaker said...


I so cannot wait for this film!
[it is sitting in my Saved Queue, eagerly awaiting release!]

When I met Barker, in October, he was raving about this film and stated the exact same thing as you - that Laugier is a perfect fit for the Hellraiser re-make, which definitely puts my mind at ease]

Great write-up Johnny!

fatb0t said...

Added...if it tops Irreversible quite frankly, I'll be astonished.

EyeloveMetal said...

fucked up indeed, didn't disturb me as much as irreversible did though..

Deepak said...

Personally, I thought it's a little overrated. It's basically gorno that tries to morph into art film near the end.

(Spoilers abound below - so please skip if you've not seen it).

What I can't stand are some of the losers on the net (other forums, not this one) who put down people who aren't completely enthused about this flick as stupid philistines. Yes, I got the references to martyrdom (which really is a religious concept, although the crazies here are going for the secular revelation angle). Yes, I saw the resemblance of Anna's ordeal to that of St. Photina under Nero (except chucking her down a well, I guess). Yes, I even got the "martyr = witness" double entendre based on the Greek etymology before the explanation came on in the closing frames.

I got all that. Still didn't think it was all that. Just a faux high-concept for the sake of gore (and not the other way around).

The cabal's motivations are never fully explored (which is actually very important when you're trying to make a cogent point in a movie like this). The whole point about theistic martyrs (whether Christian or Muslim or Sikh) is that they find solace in unwavering faith. That seems to be an indispensable element for true martyrdom. Perhaps one could argue for secular martyrdom in cases where people were tortured (without yielding) to death for their allegiance to country (e.g. William Wallace) or for information (spies). The common thing in all these instances is unwavering faith in something.

None of these "subjects" had any evidence of a similar unwavering faith which they were being coerced to renounce or repudiate. How, then, can they be claimed to be undergoing anything approaching martyrdom?

No, what Anna experienced was more like a dissociative fugue state. Lots of weird biochemical things would've been going on in her brain - endorphin overload, etc. If this cabal pooh-pooed NDEs (Near Death Experiences) as nonsense, why would they place any more credence in what these torturees were reporting? It just doesn't make sense.

However, it was a technically well-done movie. The shoot-up sequence was perfect.I liked the doubt the viewer was made to feel in the beginning about whether Lucie had killed the right family (they seemed so unlikely). The phantom girl terrorising Lucie seemed a bit cliched and overcooked, though.

Laugier seemed perfect to make a Hellraiser movie - after all, the first thing I thought of when I saw the flayed girl effect was "Hellraiser". Too bad the latest news is that Laugier is off the project.

Carl (ILHM) said...

Glad I am coming back finally to read the reviews now that I have seen the film! I still feel that the film was far less disturbing than most did, but I cant deny the fact that it has been haunting me since I watched it yesterday. Its haunting me the same way House of 1000 Corpses haunted me though, where I am questioning why I am the only one that wasnt moved on some level by the film. I think what it may be is that I couldnt help but feel like the film was forcing me to be moved, and not allowing me to be moved on my own. Like it was holding a gun to my head and saying "Feel this, or its only going to get worse!" a Russian accent no less!! Im going to have to digest a little longer and rewatch, but Deepak was able to verbalize many of my feelings towards the film in an articulate and well thoughtout manner.

Johnny said...

Whether you totally dug it or not, it seems to have had the impact on you that it intended, so I guess it's done its job. Such a frustrating movie, isnt it! My brother was pissed off at it for days after he saw it but could not stop talking about it. That's something that doesn't come along too often!