Directed by Pascal Laugier
I just turned on this movie expecting your typical horror fest, not doing much to mentally prepare myself for the watching of it. I really, really, wish I had. “Martyrs” is quite possibly one of the most horrific and disturbing pieces of celluloid that I have ever seen. And I’ve seen pretty much everything. “Martyrs” makes snuff films look like the most jovial of Will Ferrell comedies. But the craziest thing? Despite how mentally disturbing it is, it never crosses the line and becomes exploitive. Violence for the sake of pure unadulterated violence. Make no mistake, it comes close to that line, flirting with it particularly strongly towards the end of the film, but underneath it all is a story that vindicates its extremely brutal methods.
“Martyrs” is a film made in Quebec, Canada. And to its credit, it’s the most impressive Canadian production that I can ever remember seeing. It’s really quite beautiful looking. Until all the violence starts. Which happens about fifteen minutes into the film and then never stops. After this point, it remains beautifully shot, but all the same you’re gonna wanna look away more often than not. I know I did. I can remember a few moments in the film when I genuinely thought that I might have to turn this off. (The removal of a mask stapled to someone’s head – at the half way point of the movie – bringing me closest.) For the first forty minutes, the film is completely and disgustingly hypnotizing. The end of the film falters somewhat in its pacing, but it is obvious that the story would not have worked without the decisions made here, so this small discretion is forgivable.
I really don’t know what else to say about this film. It’s not something you just simply watch. No sane human being could sit through this movie without feeling something. It absolutely is a movie that you experience. So if you think that you have the intestinal fortitude to do so, search it out and turn it on. It’s a fantastic horror film, but please, don’t say that I didn’t warn you. Seriously. They should hand out medals for people who are able to make it through the totality of this picture. Either that, or lock us away.
I’ve decided not to include a trailer here because the less you know about this film (and what happens) the better. (And the trailer gives away far too much.) So if you think you might want to watch it, avoid reading or watching anything else about the film. I’ll provide a brief synopsis here, just to get you started.
A young girl is kidnapped and tortured for 14 months. Once breaking free from her captors she is placed in an orphanage. 15 years later she goes searching for those people who kidnapped her with the help of her closest friend. Sounds simple enough right? Trust me, by the end of the film, you will have forgotten all about the beginning.